Top Boy would have looked very different without Ashley Walters’ arrest

‘The only positive is that I can now help somebody who is about to make the same mistake’ (Picture: Getty/Netflix)

Ashley Walters has revealed how if it wasn’t for his 2002 arrest he probably wouldn’t have starred in Top Boy.

The gritty London thriller’s final series has launched on Netflix, ending as one of the best crime dramas of all time.

Following Dushane (Walters) and Sully (Kano), Top Boy follows the two drug kingpins and life in Hackney council estate Summerhouse.

Initially launching on Channel 4 in 2011 for two seasons, it was cancelled before Canadian rapper Drake swooped in as unlikely hero and executive producer to revive it on Netflix where it thrived for three more series

Walters proves to be one of the most honest and intense actors in the UK, alongside a collective of UK grime artists which together make one of the best ensemble casts on television.

Top Boy might not have happened for Walters though, he says, if it hadn’t been for his arrest for possession of a loaded firearm. Subsequently, he’s still unable to work in the US despite the huge acclaim he’s received worldwide as Dushane.

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Speaking to The Times, the former So Solid Crew rapper admitted at the time he was sentenced and jailed, he thought his career was over.

‘One hundred per cent. The only positive is that I can now help somebody who is about to make the same mistake,’ he said.

‘But it’s part of the journey. If my arrest had never happened I wouldn’t have been in Top Boy.

‘If anything we make the violence even more disgusting than it is,’ the actor said (Picture: Chris Harris/Netflix)

‘I’ll never stop trying to right the wrongs I have done, but some things you’ve got to let go. I was growing up with something good happening, then something bad came round the corner.’

Since Top Boy launched over 10 years ago, it’s been criticised for glamourising gun violence, despite its stars being some of the loudest advocates to end gun violence.

Perhaps those critics haven’t actually seen the show.

‘If anything we make the violence even more disgusting than it is,’ stressed Walters. ‘We never go, “Let’s make an explosion in someone’s chest bigger! Let’s slow it down.”

‘Yes, there’ll always be impressionable kids who think that what Dushane and Sully do is exciting. The truth is that some people do get out of that life. But the majority don’t. Look how many lives get taken. I don’t find that glamorous.’

Top Boy is available to stream on Netflix now.

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