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Why are some critics vexed by Top Boy’s Baftas? Because it’s the Britain they don’t want to talk about | Franklyn Addo

I live and work in communities at the heart of the series, and I value its art more than Happy Valley or The Crown

Last night, to the apparent dismay of some, the hit TV show Top Boy won the coveted Bafta award for best drama series. This was not supposed to happen. There was huge expectation that shows depicting a mainstream (read: white) version of life, such as Succession, The Crown and Happy Valley would sweep up.

The grumbling was immediate. “The Baftas were more self-congratulation by a TV class obsessed with race, identity and bleakness,” read a headline in the Daily Telegraph. Oh, God. “Top Boy is a great series,” the piece continues, “But, as ever, there’s something dizzying about high-end TV people and their peculiar obsession with the opposite corner of society. It’s all dressed up with social conscience and concern, but there’s a whiff of ‘slumming it’.” Based on a fictional Hackney housing estate called Summerhouse, Top Boy unflinchingly confronts grim, urgent social issues. While shows such as The Crown depict the power and opulence of the British monarchy, Top Boy offers a starkly different perspective on the nation, chronicling harsh realities of poverty, drug dealing and violence on our cities’ streets – and it appears that not everyone is happy about that.

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