×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

BBC Sells Controversial Russian Mob Drama ‘McMafia’ to Russia (EXCLUSIVE)

BBC Studios has managed to sell Russian mob drama “McMafia” to Russia itself, despite objections from Russian authorities to the series when it aired in Britain and amid worsening relations between the two countries over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, Variety has learned.

The series, which centers on a global crime ring run out of Russia, was broadcast on the BBC in the U.K. and AMC in the U.S., and will go out in Russia on the country’s free-TV channel Friday. Starring James Norton, who had a major role in the BBC’s adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” “McMafia” was also picked up internationally by Amazon for its streaming service.

When the show was originally broadcast in the U.K. earlier this year, the Russian embassy in London tweeted that the BBC was spreading cliches and depicting “Britain as a playground for Russian gangsters.” Since then, relations between the two countries have deteriorated badly as they clash over who is responsible for the poisoning last month of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England. The British government accuses Moscow of trying to assassinate Skripal on British soil with a lethal nerve agent.

“McMafia,” based on the nonfiction book by Misha Glenny, follows Alex Goodman (Norton), an English-raised son of Russian exiles with a mafia history. He has spent his life trying to escape the shadow of that criminal past, which comes back to haunt him and his girlfriend, Rebecca (Juliet Rylance).

The series was created created by Hossein Amini (“Drive”) and James Watkins, who directed the eight-part show. Cuba Pictures produced the series.

The sale of “McMafia” is part of a wider agreement with Friday, which secured the rights to become the new TV home of the “Sherlock” franchise in Russia. The channel has also acquired a number of BBC natural history titles including “Planet Earth,” “Planet Earth II,” and “Blue Planet II,” as well as premium BBC science titles, “Earth From Space” and “The Planets.”

Nikolay Kartozia, general director of Friday, said: “I’ve been a big fan of the BBC for almost 20 years. Their news, documentaries and dramas are all of the highest quality, so now it is a great honor that BBC Studios has selected Friday as a partner. It means that we are going the right way.”

Salim Mukaddam, BBC Studios’ general manager for Central and Eastern Europe, added: “We hope this is the beginning of a long and successful partnership between Friday and BBC Studios.”

More TV

  • Pete Davidson Sits Out Final 'Saturday

    Pete Davidson Sits Out Final 'Saturday Night Live' Sketches of 2018

    Just hours after “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson posted a message on social media that said he “really [didn’t] want to be on this Earth anymore,” he was absent from the final 2018 live sketches of the late-night sketch comedy show. But although Davidson did not take part in the sketches or appear [...]

  • Pete Davidson photographed by Peggy Sirota

    Pete Davidson Posts Unsettling Message, Deletes Instagram

    UPDATED: “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson posted a disturbing message Saturday morning stating he doesn’t “want to be on this earth anymore,” then deleted his Instagram account. In the post, Davidson wrote, “I’m doing my best to stay here for you but i actually don’t know how much longer i can last. all [...]

  • Disney Channel Fires 'Andi Mack' Actor

    Disney Channel Fires 'Andi Mack' Actor Arrested for Plotting Sex With Minor

    Disney Channel has severed ties with “Andi Mack” actor Stoney Westmoreland following his arrest for allegedly trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old. “Stoney Westmoreland, an actor working on the series ‘Andi Mack,’ was arrested in Salt Lake City today,” a Disney Channel spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “Given the nature of [...]

  • Russian Doll

    TV News Roundup: Natasha Lyonne's 'Russian Doll' Sets Netflix Premiere Date

    On Friday’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for “Russian Doll” and Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Brexit” film has a premiere date on HBO FIRST LOOKS Showtime has released a new teaser for the upcoming comedy series, “Black Monday,” which will premiere Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The series stars and is executive produced by Don [...]

  • Vanity Fair Review

    TV Review: 'Vanity Fair'

    There’s something comforting about the predictability of a period piece novel adaptation in the Masterpiece Theater tradition. Knowing the story, or even just the rhythms of the genre, there are rarely many surprises. The women will toss off witticisms and cry careful, pretty tears; the men will steel their jaws and declare their love, ideally [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content