Sitting in Limbo is a one-off factual television drama, currently available on BBC iPlayer that tells the true story of Anthony Bryan (Patrick Robinson), who is living happily with his family in Edmonton, North London. A British man of Jamaican heritage; he has lived in the UK for fifty years. So why in 2016 is he suddenly let go from his job, amidst Home Office claims that he is no longer eligible to work or live in the UK?
We follow Anthony in his struggle to get his voice heard, and witness his utter disbelief at what he is experiencing. The catalyst for his unprecedented treatment is that, due to the fact he came here on his mother’s passport as a member of the Windrush generation fifty years ago, he is a victim of the government’s ‘Hostile Environment’ policy. Claiming he has no place here, he is threatened with deportation unless he has sufficient proof of his UK citizenship.
Whilst this is a hard watch, it is the love of Anthony’s family that carries him through. The screenplay was written by Anthony’s real life half-brother, Stephen S Thompson, and is a real testament to the extraordinary power of familial love at even the most frightening of times. Anthony’s partner, Janet (Nadine Marshall) is a woman in desperation, yet her staunch optimism is significant. Even when Anthony is weary and has clearly lost all hope, Janet flatly refuses to give up, constantly reassuring him that everything will be okay. In a particularly affecting scene in which Anthony appears to be suffering from post-traumatic stress, it is Janet who is beside him, giving unconditional love and support.
Perhaps the most lingering feature of this drama is the familiarity of the setting, demonstrating how scarily close this is to our current reality. It is so recent it cannot even be considered history. What is even scarier is the fact this is an ongoing battle. Today there are still many members of the Windrush generation or otherwise who face unjustified questioning about how long they have lived in the UK.
The poignant ending links us back to the real-life narrative, giving us the alarming facts. This includes the fact that Anthony was not given compensation for his unlawful detention until 1st June 2020, a shockingly recent statistic. However, to this day, he has not been compensated for the loss of his house, employment, and overall trauma he went through.
Sitting in Limbo is a necessary watch, serving as an important reminder of the racism still present in our society today. In light of the recent death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, this feature-length drama holds even more resonance. It has the power to provoke sadness and anger in us at the injustice people of colour face, but this is not a bad thing, as long as we use it to inspire us to positive action.
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