BBC said that it was the UK public broadcaster’s biggest new drama launch this year as well as one of its most popular shows on its digital platform iPlayer.
The series, from Cuba Pictures, charts the journey of Alex Godman, played by James Norton, as he plunges deeper and deeper into the world of organized crime, eventually finding himself unable to resist the lures of corruption.
Created by Hossein Amini and James Watkins and based on the book by Misha Glenny, Amini and Watkins said that they were keen to “cast more light on the shady intersections of transnational criminals”.
Watkins told an audience at Deadline’s The Contenders Emmy event in LA earlier this month that the crime drama mirrors current political scandals in the U.S. and UK. “What’s very interesting is the show has been very close to home in the UK and they’re talking about a new mafia law in terms of seizing illicit assets in the UK, in terms of going after some of those criminals that are hiding and parking assets in housing,” Watkins said. “If you look at elements of collusion and all the stuff that’s potentially being looked at in your country, it’s really close to home,” Watkins said.
The series will be exec produced by Amini, Watkins, Glenny, Nick Marston, Dixie Linder, Ben Hall, Robyn Slovo and Elizabeth Kilgarriff with Paul Ritchie returning as producer.
Amini and Watkins said: “We are so thrilled with how McMafia has resonated with audiences across the world and are delighted to be given the opportunity to cast more light on the shady intersections of transnational criminals and their enablers in finance, law, intelligence agencies and even in governments.”
BBC Controller of Drama Piers Wenger added, “McMafia’s blend of topicality and killer storytelling struck a chord with audiences and significantly added to the discourse around Anglo-Russian relations and we are excited to be returning to that world in the safe and brilliant hands of James and Hoss for series two.”
The second season pickup also comes after the show found itself embroiled in a legal battle over its creation after a young British writer accused the BBC of breach of copyright. Wilf Varvill alleged that the storyline in the thriller is “exactly the same” as the plot of McMafia. He told Deadline earlier this year that he has filed a “breach of copyright” and “confidentiality” claim in the UK High Court to resolve the matter.