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I TALK TO Ashley Walters, Kane Robinson, Lorraine Burroughs

I caught up with Ashley Walters (Dushane), Kane Robinson (aka Kano aka Sully) and newcomer Lorraine Burroughs at a recent BFI screening ahead of the second series of Top Boy.

This time around, Summerhouse comes head-to-head with the world of organised crime, property development and corporate greed. And the police start to close in on past crimes that come back to haunt Dushane and Sully - forcing them together once more. Lorraine Burroughs joins the series as a character called Rhianna.


What's Sully's relationship like with Dushane at the start of the new series?


Kane: As the series starts, we're not really seeing eye-to-eye. After last season, he still feels a bit hard done by with Dushane leaving him and telling him - "You're too much of a liability." He obviously feels a little bit betrayed by Dushane and they're just not on speaking terms you know? 


He's not seen him now for a while and that's just how it is. Obviously there's still a bond there, they went through so much together, so there's still love there. I don't want to see him harmed in any way, and he wouldn't want to see my harmed in any way but we're just not friends at the moment - not at the start. 


We meet each other because we have a common problem, which is something to do with the Police and something we've done together a while back.


Why do you think Top Boy fans will be excited for series 2?


Ashley: I think mainly because they've had to wait so long for it to be honest. It's like when musicians make their first album it's like two or three years worth of blood, sweat and tears and then the label forces you to onto making something else but you haven't really been through the same experiences yet and you need that space and time.


That's how I see Top Boy, on my Twitter and that people never stop waiting for it. Every day without fail I've been getting - "When's it coming? When's it coming?" I think it gave everyone a slice of life that they weren't expecting to see on terrestrial TV. You only really see that kind of thing in American TV but this is Channel 4 being edgy and risky.


Lorraine, you're new to Top Boy playing a character called Rhianna. What was it like for you coming into the show and had you seen it before?


Lorraine: Yeah, I did watch the show before and also I saw the hype that it had. Because when it first went out I was out of the country and when I came back to everyone saying "Top Boy. Top Boy. Top Boy." So when I watched it I was really intrigued to see it, and it was such a slice of real life in a way that some people were scared of, and I was hearing all sorts of views - from girls and guys.


So when I was asked to be in it, I jumped at the chance because I thought there's nothing else really like this out there. 


I think this is going to have a huge impact, because people now are waiting for it because last time people didn't know what to expect, but now people love it so they're on tender hooks to find out what the next one is going to be like. So yeah, I was definitely proud to jump on board with it.


How would you best describe Rhianna and what do you think she brings to Top Boy?


Lorraine: I think she brings a strong female influence into it and also a romantic element into it - but at the same time she's not soft. She's a character that I hope other females can watch and feel proud. Showing men that it's not just a man's show.


Did you ever think during the first series that there would be a second?


Ashley: I didn't, no. I don't think anyone did if I'm honest with you. 


Kane: No, nobody did. I think it was, from Ronan's point of view, written as a one time thing. I think for Cowboy and Channel 4 it was the same, but it was so well received and turned out so good they wanted to do season two. So really, it's the people's show.  


They spoke, they really spoke on social media,. I remember speaking to Cowboy, the production company that make Top Boy, and they said that they never really understood social media and how they can get so involved and help the promotion of the show. Actually (laughs) for two years, they've still been promoting the show talking about how good it was.


Do you think that social media is responsible for Top Boy's success?

Kane: Yeah, I definitely do. I think it's just the times we're in you know? We use it to our advantage in music but in TV it's less used as a tool for marketing but a lot of people are coming around to that way. But yeah, it definitely is part of the success I believe.


Sully's got a new partner in crime this series. What can you tell us about him?


Kane: His name's Mike, played by Paul Anderson, and it's weird our relationship, because he's like a nutter as well. So it's like two nutters together and one of them has to be more nutters than the other one.


So I end up being the Dushane in our relationship - "Calm down, calm down. Don't do this." That's quite an interesting thing to play with and that you'll get to see in the second season.


What about Dushane? Do you think he's changed now that he's become 'top boy'?


Well, I think everyone else thinks he's 'top boy'. I don't think he really sees himself as 'top boy'. He's always trying to elevate himself and find new ways out - but I do think at the start of the new series that he's come with the backlash of what's happened before - and has to know where to go.


Meeting Rhianna opens up his mind to a lot of different things. There's a scene in the first episode where somebody asks Dushane - "What are you going to do with all the money?" - and he just replies - "I'm going to buy trainers!" (Laughs). That's all he's thinking, it's a lot of money and all he says is trainers.


The subject matter of the show is quite intense. Is there enough light relief on set?


Kane: Obviously I haven't got as many scenes with Ashley as I did in the first one. But when we did scenes, me, Ashley, Paul and Bashy - they were like the funniest moments. I can't even tell you. There's so much banter going on and it's good. It's like all the old gang coming back together. It's a lot of fun though - a lot of fun.


You mentioned earlier about the surprise at doing a second series. Do you think there's room for a third* or even a film?


Ashley: Film sounds good. (Laughs). It all depends on the success of the last one. If series 2 does well, there might well be. A film sounds good though, that sounds like a good idea. I might jump in there for that one.


One by one then, what's next for you?


Lorraine: I'm just about to start doing a series that I do called DCI Banks, it's the third series now and this time I'm doing it with a bump! It's going to be a bit different. (Laughs) That's what's next really, that's the biggest job of all.


Ashley: I've just finished on something called Truckers in Nottingham. It's a BBC drama about five HGV truck drivers - a comedy drama. And whatever's next is next.


Kane: I'm just waiting for Ashley not to take a role so I can find myself another one! (Laughs). I've just been in the studio recording some music. I'm halfway through an album so hopefully put out some material at the beginning of next year. And yeah, if a film pops up - I kind of just take it as it comes you know? If I like something, I go up for it. That's kind of what it's like for me at the moment.


Top Boy returns Tuesday 20th August at 9pm on Channel 4

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