Socialist Worker

Sitting In Limbo shows the banal horror behind Windrush

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2708

Anthony enters The Verne

Anthony enters The Verne (Pic: BBC)


Anthony Bryan feels like a very ordinary man. He goes to work, watches his football team lose and joins his family to dance round the living room on his birthday.

But he’s thrown into extraordinary circumstances as a routine passport application pushes his life into chaos.

Anthony, although he doesn’t know it yet, is slap bang in the middle of the Windrush scandal.

Attempting to visit his ailing mother abroad, his passport application is denied, he’s sacked from his job and threatened with deportation.

Some of the most powerful scenes come as Anthony, played by Patrick Robinson, is detained in The Verne.

It’s a fortress-like detention centre in Dorset, 166 miles from his home in London.

He’s locked up, without any explanation of what landed him in a jail cell and released just as suddenly.

As Anthony lies in his jail cell, listening to the sound of planes flying overhead, it starts to dawn on him what this is going to be like.

However dramatic the circumstances, it’s the banality of the situation that really punches through.

Anthony and his partner Janet really are Sitting in Limbo—unable to continue with their normal lives but incapable of resolving the bureaucratic wranglings.

The process strips you of not just your right to live in Britain, but your dignity too.

In a highly traumatic dawn raid Anthony is allowed to get dressed after asking the cops nicely.

But they don’t shut his front door so he’s exposed to the street.

Sitting in Limbo is a claustrophobic affair—rarely do we see Anthony and his family outside the four walls of their homes, the police station or The Verne.

But it’s probably all the better for it. The real story of the brutality heaped on migrants and refugees needs to be told.

Sitting In Limbo is on BBC1, 8:30pm, Monday 8 June and then on BBC Iplayer

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