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TV Highlight AND TRAILER: McMafia - coming to BBC One on New Year's Day

Dimitri (Aleksey Serebryakov), Alex (James Norton), Oksana (Maria Shukshina), Katya (Faye Marsay) and Rebecca (Juliet Rylance).
Dimitri (Aleksey Serebryakov), Alex (James Norton), Oksana (Maria Shukshina), Katya (Faye Marsay) and Rebecca (Juliet Rylance).

McMafia, New Year’s Day, 9pm, BBC One

Ground-breaking new international thriller McMafia is an eight-part series inspired by Misha Glenny’s best-selling book of the same name.

It charts Alex Godman’s (James Norton) journey as he is drawn deeper and deeper into the world of organised crime.

As the English-raised son of Russian exiles with a mafia history, Alex has spent his life trying to escape the shadow of that criminal past, building his own legitimate business and forging a life with his girlfriend Rebecca (Juliet Rylance).

But when his family’s past returns to threaten them, Alex is forced to confront his values to protect those he loves.

James Norton told us: “When I got the first episode I was so excited to devour it. James Watkins and Hossein Amini (screenwriters) tantalisingly fed me the rest of the episodes and I read them as quickly as I could.

“Each actor is different but the process for me is collecting the data and forming the world, so I read books about the mafia, Russia and finance, topics that I wasn’t particularly up to date with. Then after that, I had to essentially put it aside and forget it and get myself into the headspace the character would inhabit.

“I have a theory that as an actor you should love the person you are playing, however abhorrent their actions might be.”