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London on Screen: The Summerhouse Estate in ‘Top Boy’

Written by
Thomas Hobbs

When ‘Top Boy’ relocated from Channel 4 to Netflix, the Summerhouse Estate also changed postcode. Originally filmed in Elephant & Castle, the search for a new home for Dushane and his pals took the creators to East London’s Isle of Dogs.

The location: Samuda Estate, Isle of Dogs

The scene: After a few years away, Dushane (Ashley Walters) returns to London to find himself in hock to some dodgy characters. As he walks through his old stomping ground of the Summerhouse Estate, violence isn’t far away.

Top Boy

Photograph: Netflix

Then: When Netflix brought back ‘Top Boy’, a new Summerhouse Estate was needed, as its original surrogate, Elephant & Castle’s Heygate Estate, was demolished in 2014. ‘We loved the Samuda Estate because you can see the City in the background,’ says location manager Ben O’Farrell. ‘That juxtaposition says something profound.’ Even the characters’ bedrooms were filmed on the estate, where the locals were welcoming. ‘They gave us lots of tea,’ says O’Farrell.

Time Out London On Screen Top Boy

Photograph: Andy Parsons

Now: O’Farrell hopes the show’s successful revival will have a positive impact on Samuda residents, although he’s keen to point out that the estate shouldn’t be treated as a tourist destination by fans. A new season of ‘Top Boy’ is coming soon and with it, a return to the estate. But what to expect? ‘It’d be visually interesting if it deals with how these inner-city communities are disappearing,’ says O’Farrell. Watch this space.

Want to see more shots of our beautiful city on screen? Check out the best London films

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