Series title on a red banner over a map of the world
GenreCrime drama
Created byHossein Amini
James Watkins
Based onMcMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld
Misha Glenny[1]
Directed byJames Watkins
ComposersTom Hodge
Franz Kirmann
Country of originUnited Kingdom
United States
No. of series1
No. of episodes8
Executive producersNick Marston
Dixie Linder
Ben Hall
Robyn Slovo
Matthew Read
Hossein Amini
James Watkins
Misha Glenny
ProducerPaul Ritchie
Production companyCuba Pictures
Original release
NetworkBBC One (UK)
Release1 January (2018-01-01) –
11 February 2018 (2018-02-11)

McMafia is a British crime drama television series 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 by journalist Misha Glenny (2008).[1] The series 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. It is co-produced by BBC, AMC Networks, and Cuba Pictures.[2][3] It premiered in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 1 January 2018,[4] and in the United States on AMC on 26 February 2018.[5][6]


Main cast

Recurring cast


McMafia was inspired by journalist Misha Glenny's non-fiction book McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld, 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.[7]

The BBC announced the series in October 2015.[8] 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.[9] In addition to Amini and Watkins, David Farr, Peter Harness, and Laurence Coriat co-wrote the series.[10]

Filming locations included London, Zagreb, Split, Opatija, Primošten, Qatar, Mumbai, Prague, Cairo, Belgrade, Belize, Istanbul, Moscow and Tel Aviv.[7][10][11][12][13] The budget was several million pounds per episode.[14]


No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
1"Episode 1"James WatkinsHossein Amini and James Watkins1 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 WatkinsHossein Amini and James Watkins2 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 WatkinsDavid Farr and Hossein Amini7 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 WatkinsDavid Farr and Hossein Amini14 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 unknown to her he has authorised the theft.
5"Episode 5"James WatkinsLaurence Coriat and Hossein Amini21 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 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 WatkinsLaurence Coriat and Hossein Amini28 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 WatkinsPeter Harness and Hossein Amini4 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, Dimitri's hitmen targeting Vadim in Russia accidentally kill Vadim's cherished daughter Natasha instead.
8"Episode 8"James WatkinsPeter Harness and Hossein Amini11 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.


McMafia has an approval rating of 71% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 38 reviews, and an average rating of 6.7/10.[15]

Lucy Mangan, writing for The Guardian said that the show was "beautifully put together" and described the script as "a cut above average".[16]

Planned second series

In 2018, BBC One announced that it had recommissioned the programme for an eight-part second series.[17][18]

In March 2022, it was reported that the planned second series had been cancelled,[19] but author and executive producer Misha Glenny immediately denied the report on Twitter.[20][21]


  1. ^ a b "McMafia". Goodreads. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  2. ^ "First look image released for BBC One's McMafia". BBC Media Centre. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  3. ^ Bryant, Adam. "AMC Releases First Photo From Upcoming Series McMafia". AMC. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  4. ^ Munn, Patrick (6 December 2017). "BBC One Sets Premiere Date For 'McMafia'". TVWise. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  5. ^ Haring, Bruce (13 January 2018). "AMC Sets 'McMafia' Premiere, Season Starts For 'Fear,' 'Badlands,' and 'James Cameron's Sci-Fi Story' – TCA". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  6. ^ "McMafia". AMC. 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "BBC One announces McMafia, brand new thriller series by Hossein Amini & James Watkins". BBC. 21 October 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  9. ^ "Further casting announced for epic new BBC One drama McMafia". BBC. 15 November 2016.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Hamad, Marwa (4 March 2017). "Dubai in new BBC gangster series 'McMafia'". GulfNews. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  12. ^ ""McMafia" se do prosinca snima u Zagrebu". Dnevnik (in Croatian). 15 May 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  13. ^ Vuka, Petra (8 May 2021). "Znate li koji su sve svjetski filmovi i serije snimani upravo u Hrvatskoj? Neki od njih snimaju se i sada". Večernji list (in Croatian). Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  14. ^ Foster, Patrick (3 August 2016). "James Norton to play another Russian in big-budget BBC drama McMafia". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  15. ^ "McMafia - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.
  16. ^ Mangan, Lucy (1 January 2018). "McMafia review – James Norton caught in a twisted web of international crime | Lucy Mangan". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  17. ^ White, Peter (1 May 2018). "'McMafia' Renewed For Second series By BBC One". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  18. ^ Harrison, Ellie (3 February 2021). "McMafia renewed for a second series on BBC1". Radio Times. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  19. ^ Rodger, James (8 March 2022). "BBC 'quietly axe' McMafia after just one season". BirminghamLive. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  20. ^ Glenny, Misha (1 July 2022). "Twitter Reply by Author - July 2022". Twitter. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  21. ^ "McMafia author denies season two has been axed". Yahoo!. 9 March 2022. Retrieved 7 May 2022.