James Norton to play Englishman drawn into Russian mafia in BBC thriller McMafia

James Norton, Black Mirror
(Image credit: WWD/REX/Shutterstock)

James Norton has been cast as an Englishman with chequered Russian ancestry in a new BBC drama about the Russian mafia based in London

James Norton has been cast in a new BBC drama about the Russian mafia based in London.

The actor is best known for his roles in ITV series Grantchester as well as the BBC’s Happy Valley and period drama War And Peace.

The Bafta-nominated 31-year-old will take on the leading role in the new programme inspired by Misha Glenny’s best-selling 2008 book McMafia, which delved into the global reach of organised crime.

James Norton attending the House of Fraser Bafta TV Awards 2016

James Norton attending the House of Fraser (opens in new tab) Bafta TV Awards 2016 (Ian West)


He will play Alex Godman, the English-raised son of Russian exiles with previous links to organised criminals.

The eight-part drama is to focus on Alex as he is drawn into the criminal underbelly he has avoided his entire life, and his international journey through the world of the mafia.

Director of BBC Content Charlotte Moore said that James is 'at the top of his game' and will 'do justice' to the character and the series.

A BBC statement said: “This fast-paced thriller is epic and intimate, glamorous and gritty, global in scale and forensic in detail.”

James Norton, Lily James and Paul Dano in the BBC's War & Peace

James Norton, Lily James and Paul Dano in the BBC’s War And Peace (Mitch Jenkins/BBC)


James Watkins, who directed 2012 movie The Woman In Black, joined forces with Oscar-nominated screenwriter Hossein Amini to create the TV series.

They have led the writing team, which includes The Night Manager writer David Farr, Doctor Who writer Peter Harness and Me Without You’s Laurence Coriat.

In July it was announced that James will star in a new episode of Black Mirror alongside Jurassic world actress Bryce Dallas Howard when the series returns on Netflix later this year.

James Norton, Black Mirror

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