James Norton cast in lead role of new BBC One drama series McMafia

Inspired by Misha Glenny’s bestselling book McMafia, a hard-hitting look at global crime and its far reaching influence, Hossein Amini (Drive) and James Watkins (The Woman In Black) have created a thrilling international crime drama that centres around one family in London.

James Watkins has confirmed he will direct all episodes for the eight-part series.

James Norton (War & Peace, Happy Valley) will play the lead, Alex Godman, the English-raised son of Russian exiles with a mafia past. Alex has spent his life trying to escape the shadow of that criminal past, building his own legitimate business and forging a life with his girlfriend Rebecca. But when his family’s past murderously returns to threaten them, Alex is drawn into the criminal world and forced to confront his values to protect those he loves.

McMafia charts Alex’s journey through a terrifying labyrinth of international criminals, money launderers, corrupt politicians and ruthless intelligence agencies. He soon finds himself embroiled in an underworld that stretches from London to Moscow, Dubai to Mumbai, Africa to the Americas; a battleground where Mexican cocaine cartels compete with Pakistani drug lords, Balkan smugglers and the Russian Mafia itself. 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.

This fast-paced thriller is epic and intimate, glamorous and gritty, global in scale and forensic in detail. It delves into how, with the rise of globalization, 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.

Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, says: "James Norton is at the top of his game and I know he will do justice to the riveting McMafia created by Hoss Amini and James Watkins.”

Nick Marston, CEO, Cuba Pictures, says: "We are thrilled to have James Norton play Alex. Like so many others, we have been enjoying his tremendous performances over the past few years, so it is great to have the opportunity to work with him. We are also delighted that James Watkins is going to be directing the whole series. As a co-creator of the show, these terrific scripts could not be in better hands."