The BBC is entering the world of organised crime. BBC One has given the green-light to McMafia, an ambitious “event” thriller series set in the complex world of organised crime which hails from Hossein Amini, James Watkins and Cuba Pictures – the production division of leading literary and talent agency Curtis Brown.
McMafia follows a Russian family living in exile in London who are involved in global organised crime, exploring how the criminal world really works and how, driven by the global demand for cheap products, everyone is complicit, in some way, The series reveals a web of connections that join up money launderers in Dubai to cyber criminals in India, black marketeers in Zagreb to narcos in Columbia. In this world, race, religion, colour and creed present no barriers when it comes to clinching a major deal.
Inspired by Misha Glenny’s book of the same name, which explores global crime and its far reaching influence, McMafia was created by Hossein Amini and James Watkins, the latter of whom is attached to direct. The duo will lead a writing team that also includes David Farr (The Night Manager), Peter Harness (Doctor Who) and Laurence Coriat (Wonderland). Cuba Picturesis produceing with CEO Nick Marston serving as the executive producer alongside Cuba’s Head of Film & TV Dixie Linder and the BBC’s Matthew Read.
Word is that this “ambitious” series will carry a hefty pricetag, just as War & Peace did. As such, the BBC is understood to be seeking a number of international co-production partners for the project. BBC Worldwide, who hold a first look agreement with Cuba Pictures, will be responsible for securing those international partners and will also handle global sales. McMafia was commissioned by BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore and the BBC’s Controller of Drama Commissioning Poly Hill.
“Hossein Amini and James Watkins have brilliantly reworked Misha Glenny’s best-selling book McMafia, into a really exciting and original new drama for BBC One”, Controller of Drama Commissioning Poly Hill said in a statement. “This is a family drama in the world of global organised crime, which has attracted incredible writing talent to work alongside Hoss and James, to bring this drama to screen. I am very excited to have this on BBC One.”
McMafia fits in with the overall strategy of Cuba Pictures, which is in a unique position when compared to other indies as they are an offshoot of one of the UK’s, if not the world’s, most successful literary and talent agencies. Said strategy has been to mine the talent pool represented by Curtis Brown for high-end TV and feature film projects (Misha Glenny is in fact repped by Conville & Walsh, which CB holds a 50% stake in). This has already resulted in an adaptation of Suzanne Martin’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, also for BBC One.