BBC One’s intimate and important Windrush scandal drama Sitting in Limbo couldn’t have been more timely

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By: Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

Sitting in Limbo couldn’t have come at a more acceptable time. After every week of UK-based Black Lives Matter protests, the BBC One drama bleakly captures how the Windrush scandal, now so mythologised that it seems on protestors’ placards, affected particular person black British lives to devastating impact. The delicate undertone of the drama is, nevertheless, that the viewers doesn’t even know the half of it.

Primarily based on a real story, the movie gently attracts us into the world of Anthony Bryan (Patrick Robinson), a proud, affectionate man who works as a painter-decorator in London. His world is sun-dappled and healthful; not rich, however comfortable. He has a joyous, bubbly household, is in an adoring relationship with Janet McKay-Williams (Nadine Marshall) and enjoys heading out to look at Spurs win the (occasional) match. For a lot of black Caribbean households settled in the UK, his life will look acquainted – the West Indian entrance room, the music, the love.

Sitting In Limbo cast

However one thing is there. In each scene, you may really feel the unsettlement and insecurity simply across the nook. It’s masterfully drawn out by longing strings, and the cool palette, if not all the time in dialogue. And it doesn’t take lengthy for the immigration officers to return banging on Anthony’s door, demanding that he comes with them. Degrading him and barely letting him put his garments on earlier than he’s dragged off to an immigration detention centre 120 miles away and advised that he’s not welcome in the nation the place he has lived since he was eight years outdated.

The scene of his preliminary detention – with Anthony trying again from the window of the van at his companion, who runs out into the road in her dressing robe – jogged my memory softly of that scene in 1977 miniseries Roots, the place Kizzy is dragged away from her household after being bought to a different slaver. It would sound dramatic, however we might be smart to do not forget that black British Caribbean individuals wouldn’t essentially be in this nation if it weren’t for these historic binds. The present is suggestive of this in different delicate methods. After ultimately being launched from the detention centre, there’s a second the place Anthony stares out on the nice, gray Atlantic seas his ancestors as soon as traversed.

Robinson performs Anthony with stoicism and poise. You progress with him and really feel grateful that his sense of dignity and very Jamaican perspective towards individuals “figuring out his enterprise”, finally don’t get in the best way of him ultimately regaining his voice, telling his story – simply as he did in actual life; first to the journalist Amelia Gentleman and then on the Home of Commons.

However the actor who shines brightest right here is Marshall – her portrayal of defiance and love in the face of adversity is immensely charming. As Anthony closes, up, scuffling with what seems to be PTSD in the wake of his near-deportation, Janet opens up, holds him, helps him to hold his load.

Sitting In Limbo

Sitting in Limbo was written by the novelist Stephen S Thompson, the youthful brother of Anthony, who watched in horror as his sibling was locked up in detention centres and dragged by way of the courts. Anthony had moved to the UK when he was simply eight, and finally, because the movie exhibits, spent three years battling the immigration companies after changing into a sufferer of the Tories’ hostile setting coverage. That this was written by somebody so intimately linked to the characters feels important to notice; there’s a readability and intimacy in the retelling which feels remarkably true to life.

Maybe the one failing of the present is the selection to depict an virtually nostalgic Britain, the place the barber Anthony visits has a hand-painted signal and the detention centre he’s locked up in appears to be like prefer it hasn’t been modernised because the ’60s. Due to this, a number of the urgency of the problem is misplaced till the final sequence of the present, the place we see him showing on Good Morning Britain and see Theresa Could’s insincere apology to the victims of the scandal. Till this level, it will be straightforward to neglect that the bureaucratic nightmare that Anthony went by way of was only a few years in the past.

Anthony Bryan is questioned by an immigration officer in Sitting In Limbo

But when the drama itself doesn’t depart you boiling with anger on account of its barely relaxed tempo and light palettes, then the continuing details of the scandal ought to. The Windrush Classes Realized overview, launched in the course of the pandemic to restricted press protection, revealed that the Dwelling Workplace is a racist organisation that has formalised the inhumane detention and elimination of an immense variety of susceptible individuals, and continues to have an effect on the lives of British Caribbean individuals. And, as of Could 2020, Anthony Bryan nonetheless has not obtained any compensation for the trauma he went by way of.

There’s a scene which was minimize from the printed model of the drama, due to its pre-watershed begin time of 8.30pm – however you may see it in full in the model on iPlayer. As Anthony says whereas being discharged from the detention centre by one more unfeeling immigration officer: “F**ok this place and f**ok this nation.” Completely f**king truthful sufficient.

You’ll be able to watch Sitting in Limbo on BBC iPlayer now. Take a look at what else is on with our TV Information. 

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