TV Review: Top Boy, Channel 4

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Channel 4, 10pm

FOR anyone with a nagging worry that the UK might be turning into a tiny island version of the USA, Top Boy would have been an alarming sight indeed.

From the outset it played like a regional council version of the classic crime drama The Wire, with its bottom-up look at crime in an east London council estate.

This opener to the four-part drama, running throughout the week, set the scene quite beautifully, which can’t be easy when the scene is a life of brutal depression on a grimy estate.

For seasoned dealer Dushane - only 26, highlighting this programmes focus on ‘yoof’ crime - it was the only life he knew, of course, and that means dealing with even bigger fish in a small and violent pond.

The performances here were excellent, with Ashley Walters riveting as Dushane, ably supported by the youngster Malcolm Kamulete as Ra’nell, who tries to resist the lure of crime in order to take care of his mother.

While not without its bleak moments, including some graphic violence, this was rounded enough not to drive people away, and now that writer Ronan Bennett has set up his premise it can surely only get better.