The fifth and final season of Top Boy just dropped on Netflix and it’s time to say a final goodbye to Dushane, Sully, Jaq, Kieron and the rest of the Summerhouse Estate. The series, which first aired in 2011 and was revived for Netflix, follows drug dealers in London and the crime, violence, money and murder that follows them.
Warning, spoilers below!
But, aside from the fights, killings and crime, one scene in season five might be the most important of them all. In the first episode of the new season, we see Kieron – Jaq’s right-hand man and fellow dealer – be detained by immigration police who accuse him of entering the country illegally and threaten to deport him.
As political discussions around illegal immigration heighten and deportations of people who have lived in the UK for many years continues, this storyline is arguably the most important one in Top Boy so far. So, Cosmopolitan UK chatted with Joshua Blissett, who plays Kieron, about what that the storyline meant to him and what he hopes it will teach Top Boy viewers.
For those who haven’t caught up yet, in episode one, Kieron is at home with his mother when swarms of immigration police come knocking on his door. “The Home Secretary has signed an order for your immediate removal,” they say, much to the shock of Kieron and his mother, Diana, who has cancer.
They both explain that they had tried to sort the issue with the Home Office and that Kieron arrived in the UK as a baby when passports weren’t required, but the officers aren’t hearing any of it and force their way into Kieron’s home, injuring his mother in the process.
But, their neighbours quickly begin to protest, and as Kieron is placed inside the back of a police van, residents of the Summerhouse Estate surround the police vans to prevent them taking him. Tensions escalate between the residents and police but Mandy, Jaq and the rest of the Estate refuse to back down until, finally, Kieron is released.
"My first thoughts on being a part of this storyline was that I have a massive responsibility to portray this sincerely and with dignity, honesty and vulnerability because it’s something so many people are affected by," Joshua told Cosmopolitan UK.
Along with discussing with series' creators and doing his own research into similar, real-life cases, such as in Glasgow, Scotland where hundreds of people surrounded immigrant enforcement vans to free two Indian nationals, Joshua had real life experiences to draw on for this storyline.
"I’m half Jamaican and half Ghanaian, and my dad is an immigrant, so I have first-hand experience with similar issues," he shared. "I even had a best friend I played football with in primary school who was deported. How do you explain to a child that age that they're never going to see their friend ever again?"
Joshua added that even though the scene was emotional and tense, the Top Boy cast and crew were very supportive. "On the day, the energy was electric and people on set were even crying. I really felt the community of the Top Boy set which made us so much more in it emotionally," he said.
"There were even passers-by asking if I was OK because I was going through it. The extras playing police officers had real boots on and I ended up with cuts on my feet and was bleeding, but there was honour and privilege in portraying that because I'm not really going through it. We were acting, but in real life, there's no shouting 'cut' [to stop the scene]," he added.
On how Kieron's storyline speaks on other issues portrayed in Top Boy, Joshua said: "People think that individuals in this kind of lifestyle are one-dimensional, but they're all multi-faceted and it's important to show the highs and excitement, but the vulnerability and reality for people hustling in inner city London.
"The reason people start [being involved in gang violence] is because of poverty and the lack of opportunities, so this humanises people and builds empathy and understanding," he added.
So, what does Joshua hope viewers take away from Kieron's storyline? "To be proud of who you are and where you're from," he concludes. "Moments like Kieron's will humble anyone, and remind you of your community, your loved ones and family. Those are the riches in life and what make you a real top boy. It's a representation of our culture, too, and I hope it's extremely educational for viewers."
Top Boy season five is streaming on Netflix now.
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