Four-part channel 4 drama Top Boy which starts on Monday 31st October has been criticised by the mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe for perpetuating negative stereotypes of black people. Hackney council also banned filming of the drama on its council estates.

Jules Pipe said of the decision,

“Estates aren’t film sets – they are people’s homes. Hackney’s film office… considers whether the portrayal would have a detrimental effect on the  reputation of the area. In this case, it was not fair on residents… having their neighbourhood stigmatised on national television as riddled with drugs and gangs.”

Toyin Agbetu from the organisation Ligali said,

“There’s a lack of imagination. You don’t have to always portray the African community as drug-dealing, gun-toting  criminals… This isn’t the time to be going backwards and focusing on these  stereotypes. We don’t need to perpetuate more reasons for civil unrest; there  are many great stories that don’t need to focus on the boy in the hood.”

In response to the criticism Northern Irish novelist and screenwriter Ronan Bennett (who lived in Hackney for 25 years) said that the inspiration for the story came after seeing a child dealing drugs near his home.

“I was intrigued. Just a hundred metres from where I live you could be sitting drinking a latté in a café and just yards away youths could be talking about dealing drugs. The idea of two different worlds coexisting without either understanding the other, I thought, was something I should write about.”

Click HERE to read the full article via The Independent.


The mayor of Hackney just wasn’t having it! Hahahahahaha. And Ronan’s response to the criticism gave me my biggest laugh of the day.

Anyway I do think it’s time we moved away from making dramas/films of this nature. How many more times will the same miserable dark stories be told featuring a one-dimensional representation of young black males?

I totally agree with Toyin Agbetu from Ligali when he says,  “there  are many great stories that don’t need to focus on the boy in the hood.”

Your thoughts please?

Categories: UK News

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11 replies »

  1. YES! YES! YES! Like the trailer for this and that film Sket (which I also think stars Mr Walters) I rolled my eyes witnessing the same recycled mess they keep feeding us.

    Is the writer of Top Boy White? For those giving me the side eye remember Black folks live in Ireland too…not going to assume he is, but if he is, do we need White people writing about Black men like this. Screw that…do we need any writers writing about Black men/people like this?

    Hasn’t this Black man, council estate, baby mother, drug dealing, gang warfare genre been done to death already.

  2. Well I agree. These films and stories are becoming so de rigueur that there is no point watching them. You know there is a problem or lack of imagination when people outside the community are writing the same stuff. I am not saying they do not have their place but when that is all that is being offered you do have to wonder what’s up.

    Props to Hackney Council for seeing sense

    I would love to see a UK version of say Girlfriends, Baldwin Hills, Black Girls Rock. Just something different anything different than what is being spilled out.

    You know stereotypes are perpetuating when white and asian writers think of black people in this way and cant offer a solution in their works. Where is the UK’s Tyler Perry and no Noel Clarke is not. Though he apparently is branching out.

  3. Ashley Walters had a go at me on Twitter for commenting on the content of this series. But I’m glad he can see that its not just people like me (deemed ‘haters’) who feel this way. He remarked that we should watch it first before criticising but he just doesnt realise that we are so SICK of watching the same crap, that the talent in the writing and acting will be lost. For those who live in areas polluted by drug & gun crime we need to escape the bullshit not watch it on our TV.

    When the only ‘talented’ people in film in this country are making the same ‘hood’ films made in the USA 20 years ago you have to wonder how the bar got set so low. I’ll be watching Top Boy because one of my sons friends is featured. I just hope he doesnt now get typecast because of this role.

    Note: It’s strange how rappers always talk about the finer things in life in their lyrics but when they crossover to film they only show the gutter.

  4. I wish Southwark Council would do the same , this was filmed around the corner from me and is one of many ‘hood’ films and tv shows filmed in my area. It does nothing but present the area in a negative stereotypical way and a lot of the times they bring in extra rubbish and grafitti etc to make the area look more ‘urban’ and do little about removing it once they’re done.

    If production companies are going to constantly use the area in this way they could at least spend a few hours to get the actors and/or crew to do talks with the youth in the area about getting into the industry so the area gets something out of it.

  5. They don’t remove the graffiti etc after they have wrapped filming?? That is out of order! So because its the inner city and Southwark is considered “urban” its therefore alright for them to leave their mess behind? Southwark council need to start moving like Hackney council and shut em down if that’s the case.

  6. I don’t have to watch this drama to know what it’s about. I’ve watched so many of these films and dramas that I’m tired of them. I remember talking to Ashley Waters when he was in the film Bullet Boy me him and the director of the film had a little bit of an argument when I told him honestly that I thought the film was crap, he said I was hating I said no I’m not hating I’m just tired of films like this, that was close to 10 years ago and still it’s the same, why is it when you don’t like something people say it’s hating even when you explain why you don’t like it. I really wanted to like it but it was a highly forgettable film like I’m sure this drama will be. I remember the director saying to me Well I didn’t want to make it like Boyz N Tha Hood and I was like well maybe you should have made it more like Boy N Tha Hood because behind the violence there was a strong message to the film

  7. Good! I’m sick of seeing the same regurgitated foolishness, reinforcing what the mass media wants planet earth to believe is the story of male in the UK today!

  8. The funny thing is it was whilst they were filming Doctor Who that they left the grafitti, the other times it mostly been rubbish, and random posters that get left behind.
    I don’t think Southwark would ever stop a crew from filming they make a huge amount from filming, we had Brad Pitt filming here a few weeks ago, the Bill used to be here at least 3 times a year, so its definately a nice little money earner for them. I just wish they thought more about the effect it has on the kids who watch these things and get caught up in the hype

  9. The fact of the matter is, without programmes / films like these actors like Ashley Walters would be out of work. There are plenty of other genres that Black British film have yet to look at…animation, romantic comedies for which all mainstream counterparts do very well… Why? Because it’s not part of the overall agenda. The Top Boy writer is a white guy but I think that’s irrelevent as we are all to blame for continuously pushing this black male stereotype to the forefront. The thing is it’s likely to be a good drama and Ashley Walters to a degree is correct we should watch it first before commenting, but equally he should understand that we actually have ‘seen it all before’ and not accuse us of being ‘haters’ because we are simply sick of seeing the same ‘ish.

  10. Ashley is simply trying to portray the realness of whats happening in the hood….this is how people are living their life… negative …. and im sure there will be a consequence in which will be seen in the next top boy …. people need to relax a little and stop concentrating on the negative side of what he is doing ….. if a white person made a film like this in a white area about drugs and prostitution and what really happens in their area and with their ‘Top Boyz’ would u guys still be chatting ‘S’ probably not …. well done to Ashley ….if it was that bad it wouldn’t win an award …. enough said 🙂

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October 2011
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