Entertainment

Thursday 17 October 2019

Ashley Walters: Brexit has stopped discussion of other political issues

The Top Boy star said he wanted to draw attention to social concerns.

Ashley Walters (Ian West/PA)
Ashley Walters (Ian West/PA)

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Ashley Walters has said the focus on Brexit has prevented discussions about other important political issues.

The actor, whose TV show Top Boy follows the lives of young people on London housing estates, said he wants to hear about the topics that matter to him.

He told The Big Issue: “Brexit is important, what is going to happen before and after is really important, but the people being affected are the people on the ground – the people who need mental health help on the NHS while we are not talking about the NHS.

“Brexit has consumed politics for so many years now. To be honest, I am a huge fan of Question Time but I have stopped watching it. I can’t stand hearing about Brexit any more.

“I want to hear about the real issues on the ground – knife crime is really important to me, gun crime, knife crime, violent crime in general is so important.

“How we are going to stop that is not by locking more people up – it is actually that we need to open up youth clubs, we need to give people opportunities they don’t have any more because they are taking them away because of all these cuts.

“Those things are just not being discussed. It is not that I don’t care about Brexit anymore, it is just that while we are thinking about that, we are not thinking about all these other important things.”

Walters said Top Boy, which was recently revived for a new series on Netflix, is bringing Britain’s social issues to a global audience.

He said: “It was really important that it felt like London now.

“That is why we have added things around the scenario of the underdog trying to get to the top – so you have got Brexit in there, you have got gentrification, the deportation of Jax’s mum.

“All those things are really important to have in there bubbling away. As subtle as they may be in the story, they are really informing people’s movements.

“Gentrification is a difficult thing. I don’t begrudge it if people buy in an area because it is cheaper or easier to travel from – they are not intentionally going there to have people moved. But the effects are real…

“I am on the street, I am on the ground, whether that be through music or through the shows I do, I am corresponding. I am telling people exactly what I can see. That is what Top Boy has always been about.”

Walters said he had been particularly horrified by the Windrush scandal, saying: “The whole Windrush scandal was crazy to me.

“People who have lived here all of their lives – working, providing, adding to their community, adding to the country, are being treated that way.

“My gran and grandad were all part of that movement and I have so much respect and love for them. If I had to witness my gran being sent home after all she has done for us, I would be devastated.”

The full interview is in The Big Issue, out now.

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