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Don Warrington heartbreak as England ‘never felt like home’ | CelebrityNews | Showbiz & TV

The Trinidad-born actor plays the grumpy yet lovable Commissioner Selwyn Patterson in the BBC detective series Death in Paradise, which concludes tonight at 9pm. He is best known for this role, which he has played since the programme’s inception, and for playing Philip Smith in ITV sitcom Rising Damp. Born Donald Williams in Trinidad in the Fifties, he and his brother were brought to England by his mother in early childhood. Their father, politician Basil Kydd, died when Don was very young. His mother decided to start a new life in England.

While his sister remained at home, thousands of miles away in the Caribbean, Don grew up in Newcastle.

Being uprooted from his birthplace has given Don a lifelong feeling of loss, and he still feels unable to call England his home, even after more than 60 years living here.

In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, he was asked if he was glad his mother brought him to England.

He replied: “That’s a tricky one. I can’t honestly say that I feel that.

“Because that journey she [his mother] made with her children has had the most profound effect. I wonder what I left behind.”

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Asked if he had returned to Trinidad to see what he did leave behind, he said: “I didn’t for a long time, I didn’t want to because I was scared about what it would do.

“When I did, I remembered things—tastes, smells. So at a very basic level, the body had carried that sense memory.”

He continued: “When I see [my sister] I recognized something in her I would like to be. I feel a kind of loss, which is her absolute sense of knowing the ground on which she stands.

This sense of knowing where he stands is something Don does not feel in England.

He explained: “Until we can all believe that England is ours, until we can feel part of the fabric, we will feel this slight distance between us and where we live.

“There will always be another place that is home.”

Going back to Trinidad, he said, proved to be a big release of pent-up frustrations.

He told the Big Issue in 2019: “Until you experience it, you don’t realize the tension that one lives with.

“It is so nice to experience something that is in your bones.

“The physicality of being there, the recognition one sees in the people — they do things you do instinctively — that gives you a feeling of ease.”

England, he recalled, was painted as a “beautiful, golden, bright place” before they left Trinidad.

After a three-week journey across the Atlantic, they found England to be anything but the paradise they had been sold.

In Newcastle, Don and his brother were the only black children at their school.

He told The Guardian: “I got called rude names, but I’d stand up for myself. I became a Geordie and got nicknamed the Young Pele because I was good at football.

“The teachers were worse.

“One teacher thought he should stop me being left-handed and asked if I’d learned to write up a tree.”

In a 2013 interview with The Telegraph, he quickly recalled becoming used to this prejudice and being forced to confront the fact that many of these racist views were commonly held.

He said: “People not much older than me have told me when they came to this country that they were seriously asked questions like, ‘Do you still have a tail?’

“In a way, it was done with a kind of naivety — it was just stunning ignorance — and if you had said, ‘This is an outrageous thing to ask me’, they would have been very upset.”

Even now, that sense of regret over leaving Trinidad remains.

In an interview with The Guardian last week, Don said he was at his happiest “when I lived with my grandmother in Trinidad, before I came to England to live with my mother in Newcastle at the age of seven”.

Death in Paradise season 11 concludes tonight at 9pm on BBC One.