Even for those who are aware of the Windrush scandal, BBC One's Sitting In Limbo will prove harrowing. The feature-length TV drama is being heralded by viewers and newspapers alike for its "tender", "upsetting" and "powerful" retelling of Britain's bureaucracy. Where reports, hearings and articles have previously tried, this dramatisation of the real-life story of Anthony Bryan brings home the very real cost of the Conservative governments hostile environment policy, which saw thousands of legitimate UK residents treated as undocumented illegal immigrants.
Over the course of 90 minutes, the story of Anthony Bryan unfolds: from the moment he tells his elderly mother that he's finally processing his passport in order to visit her, to the moment he loses his job, home and freedom. “I started reading and I couldn’t stop crying and crying,” Pippa Bennett-Warner tells gal-dem. “I just couldn’t believe the brutality and the personal questions. The whole thing was completely shocking to me.” This is a sentiment anyone watching the drama – written by Bryan's brother, novelist Stephen S. Thompson – will no doubt share.
If you have also been left devastated by the TV drama and want to learn more, here is a list of suggested reading. Though by no means exhaustive, it will hopefully serve as a useful starting point.
More About Anthony Bryan
Sitting In Limbo paints a very vivid picture of Anthony Bryan's life and experience, but there is so much more to read and watch. Here's a few of those pieces, from his in-depth interview with The Guardian's Amelia Gentleman to his GMTV appearance, a clip of which features at the end of the TV drama.
- 'They don't tell you why': threatened with removal after 52 years in the UK (Amelia Gentleman for The Guardian)
- 'Home Office Case File on Anthony Bryan Joint Committee on Human Rights, 6 June 2018' (UK Parliament)
- Windrush scandal: What it's like to face deportation after decades in the UK (Anthony Bryan for Sky News UK)
- ‘My mum said, “Why are the police arresting you? You must have done something”: the scandal behind TV's new Windrush drama (Amelia Gentleman for The Guardian
- Sitting In Limbo: Brother turns Windrush scandal into a very personal TV drama (Ian Youngs for BBC)
Other stories of Windrush victims
Sadly, Bryan's story is one of many. Thousands were targeted by 2012's ‘Hostile Environment’ legislation which made the UK practically unliveable for thousands of legitimate British residents. Below are a few of their stories, though there are many more documentaries to watch for self-education about racism in Britain and the Black British experience, and more articles to read, too.
- Windrush citizen forced to miss his mother's funeral after being banned from coming home (Helena Horton for The Telegraph)
- Windrush generation: Three stories (BBC News - YouTube)
- British Citizen One Day, Illegal Immigrant the Next (Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura for The New York Times)
- Windrush: 'It does feel like he's been deported' (BBC Newsnight - YouTube)
- 'Lambs to the slaughter': 50 lives ruined by the Windrush scandal (Sarah O'Connor for The Guardian)
- I'm part of Windrush and am returning to Jamaica after 50 years (The Guardian - YouTube)
- Floella Benjamin on coming to England (Floella Benjamin For The British Library)
- ‘Windrush Generations’: 1000 Londoners (The British Library)
- Chased into 'self-deportation': the most disturbing Windrush case so far (Amelia Gentleman for The Guardian)
- Black history is still largely ignored, 70 years after Empire Windrush reached Britain (April-Louise Pennant and Nando Sigona for The Conversation)
- Windrush: 'Fighting to prove I'm British' (BBC Newsnight - YouTube)
- I'm A Windrush Grandchild & The Scandal Has Taught Me So Much About Privilege (Lollie King for Bustle)
More on the Windrush scandal
The Windrush was originally the name of the ship (the HMT Empire Windrush) that carried Caribbean passengers to the UK. The scandal began to surface in 2017, when the stories of those wrongly detained and deported members of the Windrush generation. Here are some useful reads in order to gain a better understanding of the history and present situation.
- Hostile environment: anatomy of a policy disaster (Jamie Grierson for The Guardian)
- Windrush Generation: The scandal that shook Britain explained and debated (Channel 4 News Special - YouTube)
- The Windrush report shows the Home Office is broken. Here's how it must change (David Lammy for The Guardian)
- David Olusoga: racism, Windrush and the hostile environment (Andrew Billen for The Times)
- ‘Wi likkle but wi tallawah’: enduring NHS cuts and Windrush deportations 70 years on (Marjorie Morgan for gal-dem)
- The Empire Haunts Britain (Alex von Tunzelmann for The New York Times)
- The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files — a tragedy of the highest order (Suzi Feay for The FT)
- 'National day of shame': David Lammy criticises treatment of Windrush generation (The Guardian - YouTube)
- Home Office is ‘institutionally racist’, said report into Windrush scandal (Steven Swinford and Oliver Wright for The Times)
- Windrush scandal explained (The Joint Council For The Welfare Of Immigrants)
- Windrush scandal: only 60 victims given compensation so far (Amelia Gentleman for The Guardian)
- Windrush lessons learned review by Wendy Williams (Home Office)
- An introduction to Andrea Levy's Small Island (British Library)
- The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment (E-book by Amelia Gentleman)
- U.K. Tribute to ‘Windrush’ Generation Draws Criticism (Palko Karasz for The New York Times)
- Home Office has paid out only 60 Windrush claims (Richard Ford for The Times)
Watch Sitting In Limbo on BBC iPlayer now.