The Sony-owned company is making feature-length drama Sitting In Limbo from Stephen S. Thompson, the Toy Soldiers author who has based his first TV script on the true story of his brother Anthony Bryan and his personal struggle to be accepted as a British Citizen.
The Windrush scandal emerged that saw many people, born British subjects wrongly detained and denied legal rights with nearly 100 people wrongly deported. Many of these people had been born British and had arrived in the UK before 1973 from Caribbean countries.
Sitting In Limbo starts with Anthony, who, after living in the UK since he was 8 years old, 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 the Windrush scandal.
The drama, which was commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, is set in 2016, four years after the coalition government introduce the Hostile Environment Policy.
The 90-minute film is executive produced by the BBC’s Mona Qureshi and Left Bank Pictures’ Lila Rawlings and Andy Harries.
Thompson said, “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. The BBC has supported and championed our work on the project from the very first meeting, and we believe it’s the perfect home for the show.”
Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, added, “I work very closely with Charlotte Moore to seek out the most compelling and inspiring British real-life stories to tell. Stephen’s script is terrific and we’re honored his first screenplay for TV will be on BBC One. Anthony’s story is incredibly important and one that needs to be told with urgency.”
Thompson is repped by Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.
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