STEPHEN S. Thompson says watching what his brother ‘went through first-hand’ made him ‘determined to tell his story’.
The true story of Anthony Bryan and his struggle to be accepted as a British Citizen is captured in a compelling BBC One drama Sitting in Limbo.
It’s Thompson’s first screenplay for TV and in the words of Pippa Bennett Warner who play’s Eileen, Anthony Bryan’s daughter, “It exposes the government” and their shortcomings in the handling of the Windrush immigration scandal. (Full interview here)
The drama is set in 2016, four years after the coalition government introduced the hostile environment policy.
After living in the UK since he was eight-years-old, Anthony 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, Anthony finds himself stuck in limbo, forced to leave his job and unable to claim benefits.
In the early hours of a Sunday morning, Anthony 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.
Stephen says: “Like everyone caught up in the Windrush scandal, Anthony has been severely traumatised by the experience.
“It has badly affected his confidence and left him questioning his very identity. As his brother, I saw what he went through first-hand.
“I couldn’t bear the idea that he had suffered in vain and it made me determined to tell his story. For me, this is personal.”
Lila Rawlings, Executive Producer for Left Bank Pictures said: “Stephen’s first-hand experience of his brother’s ordeal enables us to tell this story from inside the family; to really understand what it feels like to be betrayed by the country one has called home for over fifty years.
“This will be a drama about our modern Britain and is – in many ways – a precursor to where we find ourselves today.”
Sitting in Limbo airs on BBC One on June 8