Jungle is not the most conventional TV show you’ll ever watch. In one sense, it’s a spiritual successor to Top Boy, given its gun-toting storylines and cast whose crime-based livelihoods circle London’s drug trade. But it’s also a musical – TV’s first drill musical, in fact – and the bulk of the actors are prominent UK drill and grime MCs. It’s also set in a sci-fi alternate reality where England’s capital city is full of fictional technology such as under-skin watches, cars that have barcodes for number plates and cops armed with electrified billy clubs. If you had to give it a genre, it would be crime-fi-rap-opera.
“We didn’t just want to make a typical gangster drama,” says Jungle co-creator Junior Okoli. “Congratulations to all the productions before us, I think they’ve done an amazing job, but we wanted to do something totally different.”
Jungle is the televisual debut of Mill Directorial duo NOTHING LOST (Junior Okoli and Chas Appeti.) Appeti is a maker of music videos who’s “shot for pretty much everyone in the UK scene – Giggs, Lethal B, Chip, Ruff Sqwad, Tinchy Stryder”. Okoli worked in artist management – with a sideline as a mixed martial artist – and as he travelled the world with musicians, he noticed that wherever he was, he saw the same thing happening as in his home town: inner-city poverty leading to a life of crime.