Residents who live on the housing estate where Top Boy is filmed have claimed the show has “done nothing” for them.
In the Netflix show, starring Ashley Walters and Kane ‘Kano’ Robinson, scenes depicting the fictional Summerhouse Estate are filmed on the Samuda Estate on east London’s Isle of Dogs.
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Residents on the estate have appeared as extras in the series. The privately run estate management firm, One Housing, was also paid an undisclosed amount to allow the estate to be used, which went towards putting on trips to theme parks or the seaside for families living on the estate.
Some, however, have claimed they haven’t felt any benefit from the money, with trips becoming booked up too quickly, while some believe it should have contributed to helping improve the estate’s condition.
Julie Hutchinson, 52, who has lived on the estate for 16 years, said (via MailOnline): “They’ve done nothing for us. The estate is really run-down. They don’t do any work on it.
“One Housing have benefitted from the filming, but not the people who actually live here. The people working on it were nice enough.”
Hutchinson said the show, which follows drug dealers Dushane (Walters) and Sully (Kano), is “very far-fetched”.
“It’s not gang-infested here or anything,” she added. “It’s not a fair reflection of this state, but it’s not trying to be. It’s fictional. But the money was meant to go back to the residents, and I don’t think they’ve done that properly. They’ve done nothing for us.”
Terry Wigzell’s four children were among those who missed out on the paid trips. “It was really hard to get on the trips,” he said. “There was one to Legoland, another to Brighton.
“There were quite a few but we couldn’t get on any of them. They were all filled up. Maybe they could have spent it on something all the kids could have done.
“Top Boy is a really big thing. It was meant to be. But it hasn’t benefited us in any way.”
A spokesperson for One Housing said it had consulted with residents on how they would like to see the money spent earlier this year – which is contested by those living on the estate.
“The funding we received for use of the Samuda estate to film Top Boy has contributed to the resident engagement, financial and community support services we offer,” the spokesperson said.
“It was important to us that we consulted residents at Samuda (around 500 properties) on how they would like to spend the funds.
“Throughout January and February, we carred out numerous consultations including door-knocking exercises, home visits, phone calls, Freepost return surveys, and approaching established community groups in the area, asking residents to share their ideas.
“Hearing from them and understanding the current financial challenges faced, we have been able to offer days out that many had shared they were currently unable to experience, such as trips to theme parks during the summer holidays, visits to beaches, and wellbeing activities.”
One Housing added that it is “continuing to use every opportunity to ensure residents have their say so there is something for everyone”.
“Trips have been organised on a first come, first served basis at the moment but more activities are being arranged so everyone can have the opportunity to benefit from the funding received,” the spokesperson added.
In the show’s first two seasons, which originally aired on Channel 4, scenes on the Summerhouse estate were shot on the Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle – which was later demolished in 2014.
After Channel 4 axed the series in 2013, Top Boy was revived by Netflix in 2019, with help from Drake who served as an executive producer. For the show’s last three seasons, filming moved to the Samuda Estate.
Top Boy is available to stream on Netflix.