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Series title on a red banner over a map of the world
Genre Crime drama
Created by Hossein Amini
James Watkins
Based on McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld (2008)
by Misha Glenny[1]
Directed by James Watkins
Composer(s) Tom Hodge
Franz Kirmann
Country of origin United Kingdom
United States
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 8
Executive producer(s) Nick Marston
Dixie Linder
Ben Hall
Robyn Slovo
Matthew Read
Hossein Amini
James Watkins
Misha Glenny
Producer(s) Paul Ritchie
Production company(s) Cuba Pictures
Distributor BBC Worldwide
Original network BBC One (UK)
Picture format 16:9 1080i
Audio format Stereo
Original release 1 January 2018 (2018-01-01) – present
External links
BBC website
AMC website

McMafia is a British crime drama miniseries created by Hossein Amini and James Watkins, and directed by Watkins. It is inspired by the book McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld (2008) by journalist Misha Glenny.[1] The series, which stars James Norton as Alex Godman, the British-raised son of a Russian mafia boss living in London whose father is trying to escape from the world of organised crime, is co-produced by the BBC, AMC, and Cuba Pictures. It was first broadcast on BBC One from 1 January 2018,[2][3][4] premiered on AMC on 26 February 2018.[5]


Main cast[edit]

Recurring cast[edit]


McMafia was inspired by journalist Misha Glenny's non-fiction book McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime, published in 2008. The series took a few stories from Glenny's book, which documents various mafia organisations thriving around the world today, the series was created by Hossein Amini and James Watkins, and is a co-production of the BBC, AMC, and Cuba Pictures, in association with Twickenham Studios.[6]

The BBC announced the series in October 2015;[7] in April 2016, it was announced that James Norton had been cast in the lead role of Alex Godman and that co-creator Watkins would direct all eight episodes. Additional casting, including Maria Shukshina and Aleksey Serebryakov as Alex's parents, and David Strathairn as a shady Israeli businessman, was announced in November 2016.[8] In addition to Amini and Watkins, David Farr, Peter Harness, and Laurence Coriat co-wrote the series.[9]

Filming locations included London, Zagreb, Split, Opatija, Qatar, Mumbai, Prague, Cairo, Belgrade, Belize, Istanbul, Moscow, and Tel Aviv.[6][9][10][11] The budget was several million pounds per episode.[12]


No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date UK viewers
1 "Episode 1" James Watkins Hossein Amini and James Watkins 1 January 2018 (2018-01-01) 9.82
An attempt on the life of Russian businessman Vadim Kalyagin leads to retaliation against English investment fund manager Alex Godman's uncle drawing him into a power battle between the Russian and Israeli criminal underworld. A world Alex has up to now been able to keep his investment company out of despite his own father's past interests in the Russian underworld.
2 "Episode 2" James Watkins Hossein Amini and James Watkins 2 January 2018 (2018-01-02) 8.67
A young woman, Lyudmilla, arrives in Cairo to take up a job as a beautician, only to find she has been deceived and kidnapped by human traffickers. Semiyon seeks to take control of Mumbai from Vadim and needs allies requiring money, he uses Alex Godman to transfer the money through his investment company which Alex does concealing the facts from his staff. Lyudmilla held with three other girls discovers the ruthlessness of the traffickers. Alex is called to Prague by Semiyon who is trying to unseat Vadim from his smuggling operations. Alex's father attempts suicide. Lyudmilla is passed to traffickers in Israel and selected by Semiyon's personal assistant Tanya.
3 "Episode 3" James Watkins David Farr and Hossein Amini 7 January 2018 (2018-01-07) 7.46
Semiyon grows his business empire in Prague and Mumbai and a concerned Vadim goes to Prague looking for answers. Semiyon also has plans for a high class casino ship in Israeli waters and Tanya coaches Ludymilla to use her sexuality to discover secrets from Semiyon's prospective business partners. Rebecca, Alex's girlfriend, is approached by Antonio Mendez claiming to be Alex's old friend from university. Mendez phones Alex, who does not know him, and arranges a meeting at his villa in the South of France which he accepts taking Rebecca, as requested, with him to find out what the man wants. Mendez wants to use Semiyon's ships to bring drugs into Europe. Alex proposes to Rebecca.
4 "Episode 4" James Watkins David Farr and Hossein Amini 14 January 2018 (2018-01-14) 6.74
Semiyon advises Alex not to do business with the Mexican cartel. Alex employs a computer expert to conceal his dealings with Semiyon from his staff. Rebecca is concerned about Alex when she discovers he has a second phone, which he lies about, she takes her concern to his father. Semiyon uses his contacts to discover the whereabouts of Vadim's drugs in Mumbai. Semiyon leaves the decision to steal the drugs to Alex warning him there will be repercussions. Rebecca confronts Alex about his dealings with Semiyon, but unbeknown to her he has authorised the theft.
5 "Episode 5" James Watkins Laurence Coriat and Hossein Amini 21 January 2018 (2018-01-21) 6.49
Alex and Semiyon disagree on how to keep the pressure on Vadim. Semiyon is arrested for homosexual rape and Lyudmilla sees a way to escape Semiyon's employment; but she needs Alex as a go-between. Rebecca meets Antonio for advice about Alex's business dealings. Masha confides to Katya, Alex's sister, that she is pregnant by her father, Dimitri. To have the charges dropped, Alex blackmails Semiyon to allow his ships to smuggle Antonio's drugs and release Lyudmilla, he agrees to the former but not the latter.
6 "Episode 6" James Watkins Laurence Coriat and Hossein Amini 28 January 2018 (2018-01-28) 6.33
Alex poaches Semiyon's employee to organise a bodyguard team in London to protect his parents and sister. Furthermore Alex provokes a temporary split with his unsuspecting fiancée Rebecca, who moves into a separate apartment, the idea is to remove her from the threat posed by Vadim's thugs, but the ruse is exposed by visiting Benes who has been pressed into Vadim's service. Rebecca is shot in the stomach, but is saved by Alex's bodyguard arriving in time to kill the assassin.
7 "Episode 7" James Watkins Peter Harness and Hossein Amini 4 February 2018 (2018-02-04) 6.15
Alex confesses to his family his mafia entanglements. His hospitalised fiancée, Rebecca, has lost Alex's baby and disowns him, his father insists on protecting the family using old Russian contacts, leading to two outcomes. First, Alex meets Vadim and Semiyon in Istanbul to sue for peace with Vadim. Alex nevertheless does not trust Vadim and forges an alliance with Antonio and his Mexican mafioso colleague. Secondly, hitmen targeting Vadim in Russia accidentally kill Vadim's cherished daughter Natasha instead.
8 "Episode 8" James Watkins Peter Harness and Hossein Amini 11 February 2018 (2018-02-11) 6.31
Alex flies to Moscow unaware of his father's actions and is detained by Ilya's agents. He escapes and is protected by his bodyguard and Lyudmilla, now reunited with her grateful parents. Meanwhile Ilya's boss at the Russian secret service criticises Ilya's loyalty to Vadim; in a business meeting with Mexican and Russian drug oligarchs, Alex secures his position as a powerful mafioso, even cutting out Antonio. Secret service agents shoot and wound Vadim who escapes to an apartment and then faces Alex in a final confrontation.


Lucy Mangan, writing for The Guardian said that the show was "beautifully put together" and described the script as "a cut above average".[13]

Felia Allum, writing for I (newspaper) criticised the depiction of women in the show, stating "many of the female characters appear to fit all too neatly into the stereotypical category of “passive” mafia women".[14]


  1. ^ a b "McMafia". Goodreads. Retrieved 2018-02-26. 
  2. ^ "First look image released for BBC One's McMafia". BBC. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  3. ^ Bryant, Adam. "AMC Releases First Photo From Upcoming Series McMafia". AMC. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  4. ^ "Here's a look at the new James Norton spy thriller McMafia, coming soon". The Sun. 11 May 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  5. ^ "McMafia". AMC. Retrieved 2018-02-05. 
  6. ^ a b Szalai, Georg (5 April 2017). "MIPTV: 'Drive' Writer and 'McMafia' Author on Teaming Up for BBC/AMC Series". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  7. ^ "BBC One announces McMafia, brand new thriller series by Hossein Amini & James Watkins". BBC. 21 October 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  8. ^ "Further casting announced for epic new BBC One drama McMafia". BBC. 15 November 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "Brazilian star Caio Blat to star in brand new BBC series McMafia alongside James Norton and Juliet Rylance". BBC. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  10. ^ Hamad, Marwa (4 March 2017). "Dubai in new BBC gangster series 'McMafia'". GulfNews. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  11. ^ ""McMafia" se do prosinca snima u Zagrebu". Dnevnik (in Croatian). 15 May 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  12. ^ Foster, Patrick (3 August 2016). "James Norton to play another Russian in big-budget BBC drama McMafia". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  13. ^ Mangan, Lucy (2018-01-01). "McMafia review – James Norton caught in a twisted web of international crime | Lucy Mangan". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018-01-12. 
  14. ^ Allum, Felia (2018-02-13). "Why McMafia's passive women characters are far from credible | Felia Allum". i. Retrieved 2018-02-21. 

External links[edit]