The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files

Video clips are automatically supplied by broadcasters and distributors. is not responsible for the clip's contents.
The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files


In 2017, press reports uncovered the plight of Caribbean migrants who were facing deportation after living in Britain legally for decades. What became known as the Windrush Scandal exposed how the Home Office’s “hostile environment” policy – outsourced and target-driven – had detained and threatened perfectly legal British citizens.

But that scandal didn’t come out of nowhere, argues David Olusoga. In a calm but scalding assessment, he looks back here at 70 years of UK policy through human stories and official documents he digs from the archives.

In once-secret reports and papers from the 1950s and 60s he finds a steady vein of hypocrisy in government thinking, which wanted to stem the flow of “coloured” migrants from the Commonwealth without appearing to discriminate. The tone and language are fascinating – at once racist and embarrassed about its own racism.

“At its heart,” Olusoga concludes of the policy, “was a belief that no matter what the laws of citizenship might say… black and brown people could never really be British.”


David Olusoga opens previously unseen government files to argue that the Windrush scandal and the so-called hostile environment for black British immigrants has been 70 years in the making. The film features Sarah O'Connor, Anthony Bryan and Judy Griffith. Settled in the UK legally since childhood, they were re-classified as illegal immigrants by new regulations. Unable to show proof of their nationality status, they lost jobs, savings and their health, facing deportation back to countries they could barely remember.

Cast & Crew

Presenter David Olusoga
Director Tim Kirby
Director James Ross
Editor Reva Childs
Editor Steve Scales
Executive Producer Mike Smith
Producer Tim Kirby
Producer James Ross
see more