The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

TV Binge: Top Buzzer

James Lance and a young Stephen Graham star in this oddball comedy about two small-time weed dealers

By

Forget Breaking Bad and Narcos—unsung mid-noughties comedy Top Buzzer is the perfect drug program that you’ve never heard of. Starring James Lance as yuppie-music-producer-turned-part-time-weed-dealer Sticky, and a young Stephen Graham as his scouse sidekick Lee, they both, with varying degrees of success, try to run a small drug business together, making for a hilarious little TV series ideal for lazy viewing.

First airing on MTV in 2005, Top Buzzer was never destined for big commercial fame. It is, however, a shame that it has not been picked up by on-demand platforms such as Netflix, because it is a great independent series that’s funnier than a lot of the shows you can watch on E4 today.

Set in gentrified North London, it follows posh DJ Sticky and his lethargic stoner flatmate Lee in their ‘top buzzer’ flat as they experience the many pitfalls and pleasures in dealing cannabis to their eclectic clan of mates, including a predatory Scottish gangster, young attractive drama student Daisy, and So Solid Crew and Top Boy star Ashley Walters’s grime artist ‘Buggsy’. (Also spot the cameo appearance from two famous Madchester icons…) The cast work brilliantly to make this little comedy function, particularly Lance and Graham together, because they form an excellent comedy duo as Sticky and Lee. Stephen Graham’s acting career has ballooned, and deservedly so since his role as thug Combo in This is England and his menacing portrayal of Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire, but it’s great to see him shine in a comedy role too, and fit the part of a loveable scamp.

Like many TV series it takes a few episodes to get used to the style of Top Buzzer. At first the intrusive, loud splicing of soundtrack can prove a bit irritating, and the scenes can move a bit too quickly, but by the time you get used to the set-up and start laughing, the scrappy beginnings will be long forgotten.

The humour in Top Buzzer is perfect; ranging from subtle cultural references to out-and-out slapstick comedy, it’s a laugh-a-minute program that could easily cheer you up when you have nothing to do. One particular scene: when the buddies’ friend Carlton argues that Daisy will not appreciate a particular strand of weed, he says ‘It’s like giving Lee a 64’ Chateau La Tour’, to which Lee responds ‘I don’t even drive…’.

Overall, Top Buzzer is a light-hearted, hilarious subtle show with a stellar comedy cast. Unfortunately, its lack of presence on any online or on-demand platforms means it may be one to hunt down in the depths of HMV or Amazon, but if you can, it’s definitely worth the watch. It’s surprisingly warm and heart-felt for a show that depicts the antics of two petty drug dealers. The script is so understated yet clever, and with such a treat of a cast, it’s bound to have you thoroughly entertained.