“I hope that people will recognise the injustices that happen every day, constantly, for people of colour”.
Patrick Robinson (Casualty, The Bill, Mount Pleasant) and Nadine Marshall (Save Me, National Treasure, The Innocents) lead the cast in new WIndrush drama Sitting in Limbo. Inspired by a shocking story from the Windrush Scandal. After 50 years in the UK, Anthony McKay-Williams is wrongfully detained by the Home Office and threatened with deportation. Robinson and Marshall lead the drama as Anthony and Janet McKay-Williams. Pippa Bennett Warner plays Patrick’s daughter Eileen, CJ Beckford plays her brother Gary and Corinne Skinner Carter plays Patrick’s mother, Lucille. Patrick talks about the drama, his character and Black British Identity. (pictured Patrick and Nadine courtesy BBC)
What was it like working with the writer, Stephen S. Thompson and with Stella Corradi on her feature length debut?
I was in tears just reading the script and it was enough for me to know that I wanted to be involved. It does exactly what it says on the tin, sitting in limbo. Working with Stella Corradi has been fantastic. As far as I’m concerned, she is right on point with this. The whole crew and cast were great, and it was fun although the subject matter has been very deep and passion-filled to explore. Everyone was going in the same direction and that is a rare thing, especially on any film set.
What interested you in the role?
What interested me about the role was showing how a regular guy deals with injustice and all the different ways in which he copes with it. He does it with such dignity and grace, which is to be applauded and respected. It’s a great part.
What part of your character, did you relate to the most?
What I found in the character, and in the man himself, was that I relate to so much of his world because it’s part of my world. He reminds me of my older brother. There were so many things which are in line.
Did you feel any additional pressure portraying a real-life person?
Not in this instance because the story could be anyone who is a regular guy. I don’t want to say ordinary or normal, but it’s tricky because he is a regular guy. He just happens to be West Indian, Jamaican, living in the UK and of course I can relate to all of that.
How important is it to you that more stories like Sitting In Limbo get made?
I think it is vitally important that this story gets out to the British public. I think when they see the story they will understand why. There are millions of us dealing with this same unjust scenario, every day, in lots of different ways. What actually happened is so important and gradually people are realising that. We’ve been here for a good while and have a right to be here because we were asked to come and help.
Has the Windrush scandal changed how you think about your Black-British identity?
The ‘hostile environment’ is nothing new to me, they’ve been doing it for centuries. They are always finding legislation to try and exclude people of colour. It is always done very sophisticatedly, in ways that we cannot get flummoxed by, but we know they are getting us to work and reaping the rewards.
How much do you think has changed as a result of the Windrush scandal?
I don’t believe much has changed since the Windrush scandal. If they compensate all the people involved, then that would be a great step in terms of things moving forward. Nothing has been done about the legacy that exists for people of colour throughout the world since the time of slavery. We know that some people inherited a lot of wealth off the back of people who worked for nothing. Apologies don’t do anything, they’re still sitting on their wealth and passing it down to their offspring. When you put your hand in your pocket, that tells me you acknowledge we exist. If you give us apologies, it tells me that you’re just laughing in our faces.
Does the idea of Britain as a welcoming multi-cultural society still exist to you?
I believe Britain is a welcoming multi-cultural society for the most part. Brexit doesn’t make any difference. Who can tell anyone that they can’t travel from one country to another? It’s all just paperwork. People will still come here from all over the world and I think it is a great place to be.
What do you want an audience to take away from Sitting in Limbo?
I hope that people will recognise the injustices that happen every day, constantly, for people of colour.
Confirmed for BBC One on 8 June at 8.30pm to 10pm