What's James Norton's new crime drama McMafia about?

First picture emerges of actor playing Anglo-Russian businessman Alex Godman in BBC's upcoming series

James Norton and Maria Shukshina in McMafia
(Image credit: BBC)

James Norton fans have been given a sneak peek of the actor in his next project, BBC crime series McMafia.

The eight-part drama, based on Misha Glenny's best-selling book McMafia, tells the story of a billion-dollar global gang war through the eyes of a Russian family living in exile in London.

A new picture released by the BBC shows the War & Peace and Happy Valley star as Alex Godman, dressed in black at a family funeral next to his mother Oksana, played by Maria Shukshina.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Norton's character is the English-raised son of Russian exiles trying to escape his family's mafia ties by going into legitimate business and making a new life with his girlfriend Rebecca (Juliet Rylance). His plans go astray, however, and Godman finds himself drawn back into the world of organised crime when his family's past returns to threaten their safety.

"What starts out as a story of survival and revenge becomes an epic tale of a man's struggle against the lures of corruption in the modern world and in himself," says the BBC.

The broadcaster describes McMafia as a "fast-paced thriller" that is "epic and intimate, glamorous and gritty, global in scale and forensic in detail".

It adds that the show will delve into the rise of globalisation, where "the corporate has become criminal and the criminal corporate and how, driven by the global demand for cheap products, everyone is complicit in some way".

McMafia also stars Faye Marsay from Game of Thrones, The Bourne Ultimatum's David Strathairn and Russian-Canadian actor Aleksey Serebryakov.

Co-creator Hossein Amini, speaking about the project to The Guardian in 2015, said: "I have always been a fan of mob sagas but Misha Glenny's McMafia is the first book I've read that captures the complexity and global reach of organised crime in the 21st century."

Executive producer Dixie Linder said the show had "definite echoes" of The Godfather, in which a son tries hard not to join his mafia family, but added: "We are not replicating that world."

McMafia is currently shooting in London before the production moves to Croatia, so it will be some time before it reaches UK TV screens. No official air date has been announced, but for Norton fans, it might be enough to know that the star has a big new series in the pipeline.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.