Here's when Sitting in Limbo is on BBC One - and the true story of the Windrush scandal

Monday, 8th June 2020, 2:49 pm
Updated Monday, 8th June 2020, 3:44 pm

A new BBC One feature-length drama looks to tell just one true story from a time when wrongful deportation was rife among the ‘Windrush generation’.

Sitting in Limbo is a feature-length TV film based on the true story Anthony Bryan, the real-life brother of the film’s writer, Stephen S Thompson.

It documents Bryan’s personal struggle to be accepted as a British Citizen during the Windrush immigration scandal.

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Here's everything you need to know about it, including some background history on the Windrush scandal:

What is Sitting in Limbo about?

After living in the UK since he was 8 years old, Anthony Bryan decides to visit his elderly mother in Jamaica.

He has never held, or needed, a passport before and while filling out the paperwork at the Passport Office he is stunned to discover that there is no record of him as a British Citizen - despite having lived in the country since 1965.

With the onus on him to prove his British status to the Immigration Office, Bryan finds himself stuck in limbo, forced to leave his job and unable to claim benefits.

In the early hours of a Sunday morning, he is forcibly removed from his home and detained as an illegal immigrant.

The devastation that ensues puts Anthony at the centre of what has now become known as the Windrush scandal.

What was the Windrush scandal?

The ‘Windrush generation’ are named after the Empire Windrush, the ship that brought the first groups of West Indian migrants to the UK (Photo: Getty)

One of the biggest current affairs stories of 2018, the Windrush scandal saw scores of people wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and wrongly deported by the UK Home Office.

The name comes from the fact that the scandal mainly involved people of Caribbean heritage known as the ‘Windrush generation’, in turn named after the Empire Windrush, the ship that brought the first groups of West Indian migrants to the UK in the late 1940s.

Many had been born as ‘British citizens’ (the Caribbean countries from which many originated were under the Commonwealth banner), and were granted the right to settle in the UK by the British Nationality Act 1948.

Those legal rights meant that those migrated neither needed nor were given any documents upon entry to the UK.

But when the Conservative government introduced their ‘hostile environment’ policies in the early 2010s (designed to make settling in the UK as difficult as possible for illegal immigrants), many of the Windrush generation – technically undocumented – fell foul of new immigration policies.

This led to hundreds of people – who had lived in Britain their whole lives, contributing to society in a plethora of ways – being wrongly deported, detained and denied legal rights by the Home Office.

Understandably, it was an unsettling time for many, with countless ‘legal’ citizens suddenly being told they were to be deported back to their home countries after decades in the United Kingdom.

There are now 500,000 people resident in the UK who were born in a Commonwealth country and arrived before 1971 - including the Windrush arrivals - according to estimates by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory.

When can I watch Sitting in Limbo?

Sitting in Limbo airs on BBC One tonight (Monday 8 June) at 8.30pm.