EXCLUSIVE: BBC One has given a green light to McMafia, an epic drama event series set in the international world of organized crime, from writer-director Hossein Amini (Drive) and director James Watkins (The Woman In Black). Inspired by the 2008 bestseller by Misha Glenny, McMafia promises to be a hard-hitting look at global crime and its far-reaching influence.

bbconeAmini and Watkins have chosen to center in on one Russian family living in exile in London as the starting point for their globe-trotting epic that will follow money launderers in Dubai, cyber criminals in India, black marketeers in Zagreb, narcos in Colombia, Russian oligarchs in London and Bedouin smugglers in the Negev desert. In this world, race, religion, color and creed present no barriers when it comes to clinching a major deal. 

Amini has long been a go-to writer for anyone seeking sophisticated, intelligent, well-paced drama. Gangster fans should be salivating at the prospect of a writer of his caliber letting loose with source material as juicy as this.

In addition to Amini and Watkins, the heavyweight writing team includes David Farr (The Night Manager), Peter Harness (Doctor Who) and Laurence Coriat (Wonderland). Cuba Pictures (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel) is producing for BBC One. BBC One controller Charlotte Moore and Polly Hill, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning, commissioned the series.

“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 organized crime in the 21st century,” said Amini, who is also working on The Alienist for Paramount and Anonymous Content with Cary Fukunaga directing. “The lines between gangsters, bankers, politicians and spies has been blurred and the whole world has become a battlefield in this global gang war. I am thrilled to be working with such terrific writers on a series that I hope will be epic, authentic and also intimate in the best traditions of the genre.”

Adds Watkins: “The annual turnover of transnational organised crime is estimated at $870 billion. Misha Glenny’s brilliant book casts fascinating light on that huge hidden world and shows how terrifyingly close it is to us all. I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with such brilliant writers to bring that captivating underworld to BBC One.”

McMafia is exec produced by Nick Marston and Dixie Linder for Cuba Pictures and Matthew Read for BBC One. BBC Worldwide will handle worldwide sales and manage potential international co-productions.