BBC/AMC drama McMafia is set to air in China after BBC Worldwide sold the James Norton-fronted story of greed, corruption and the Russian underworld to digital platforms OPG and Youku. The series, which is produced by Cuba Pictures, is to be retitled The Godmans in the Middle Kingdom.
War & Peace’s Norton as a young banker drawn into the shady underworld as a result of his family’s Russian history. The series is based on a book by former BBC news correspondent Misha Glenny and was adapted by Drive’s Hossein Amini and The Woman in Black’s James Watkins in association with Twickenham Studios and BBC Worldwide. It has aired on BBC One and is set to launch on U.S cable network AMC and Amazon Prime Video around the world, including Russia.
Earlier this month, the show became embroiled in a legal battle over its creation after a young British writer accused the BBC of breach of copyright. Wilf Varvill has alleged that the storyline in the thriller is “exactly the same” as the plot of McMafia and he has filed a “breach of copyright” and “confidentiality” claim in the UK High Court to resolve the matter.
In addition to the China sale, BBCW has sold the show to Swedish public broadcaster SVT.
The deals come ahead of BBC Showcase, the British broadcaster’s annual international programming shindig, which will see around 700 buyers descend on Liverpool to snap up the latest British, and more often than not, international product, from its distribution division.
Last week, Paul Dempsey, President Global Markets, BBC Worldwide, told me that it had “pushed it a bit further this year” and expects more new customers than ever before including the likes of Apple and a raft of local SVOD services alongside Netflix, Amazon and the traditional broadcasters.
Ahead of Showcase, BBCW has sold over 3,300 hours of drama internationally over the last three months. Dempsey added, “International demand for British drama is incredibly strong because audiences know they will be treated to compelling stories, expertly told. We’ve got world-class acting and production talent and our writers are on another level. Just look at some of the titles we’re launching at Showcase: Press, The Split and Doctor Who. Where else could you enjoy the work of Mike Bartlett, Abi Morgan and Chris Chibnall all in one place?”