Ridley Road business owner claims that she lost sales after being hemmed in by Top Boy film crew

General view of the Dato store on Ridley Road

General view of the Dato store on Ridley Road - Credit: Archant

A business owner was left disgruntled and out of pocket after the company which makes TV series Top Boy spent an afternoon filming outside her shop on Tuesday.

Production company Cowboy Films, who make the Channel Four drama about gangs in Hackney, allegedly failed to notify Tina Okpechi, the owner of African grocery store Datco Food, in Ridley Road, that they would be filming and would need to cordon off the area.

Ms Okpechi, 43, said: “I saw the Top Boy crew talking to the guy who runs the burger kiosk across the road from my shop.

“Around 2.45pm, actors and actress were suddenly everywhere. They were like locusts and came from nowhere. They cordoned me off, so customers were not coming through. If any customers came in the director would cut the shoot and redirect people.”

“My shop was cordoned off for an hour. I lost quite a lot of customers. This is the time when we make money because it’s the time people go to and from school to pick up their kids. In an hour I can make £150 to £400.”

When she asked production staff why she had not been notified or paid, she was told they did not think they were going to use her shop. After wrangling with the assistant location manager, she was offered £150 for the inconvenience.

Ms Okpechi added: “Even though I’m not totally happy, it will cover some expenses for the day. Last year it was different as they went from shop to shop and let business owners know what they were going to do. They discussed disruptions and told business they would pay them so everybody was happy.

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“This year they invited themselves, didn’t let me know they were coming and then told me to take or leave the location fee. It was very unprofessional.

“I feel they might think that Ridley Road is a rundown area and they can treat it any way they want – something to be trodden on. We pay a huge amount of rates and rents. The business in this area is how we make our livelihoods and how we make our living.”

Channel Four was unable to comment before the Gazette went to press.