TV review: McMafia is an intriguing glimpse into the world of the corporate gangster

James Norton stars at Alex Godman in the new BBC 1 drama McMafia. Picture by Nick Wall/ BBC

McMafia, BBC1, Monday, 9pm

The trailers for the new BBC One drama promised a lot, so did the first episode of McMafia live up to all the hype?

Flitting between Doha, London, Moscow and Eilat, the first of eight episodes introduces the world of affluence, finance and the Russian mafia underworld.

But it's how the past can come back to haunt people and the impossibility of escaping the past - or to be exact - your family's past that is the crux of the storyline.

The new drama follows Alex Godman, played by James Norton, an investment banker of Russian descent.

He looks and sounds like an English gent, he is also the son of Russian emigrants, brought up in lavish surroundings in London - just across from Harrods would you believe - and college educated in America.

He's become a reputable hedge fund manager with a beautiful girlfriend by his side - a young man who has done everything by the book...until a series of events changes that forever.

It's clear from the start that Alex doesn't want to flaunt his Russian heritage, he's steered away from any links with his family's home country and has achieved success on his own.

That is until his Uncle Boris, who is clearly involved in dodgy activities, brings the past banging on his nephew's front door.

After Boris orders the assassination of rival mafia leader Vadim Kalyagin, who had driven the family out of Russia in the turbulent post-Communist era, things turn ugly.

'Families are the only ones that help without condition', Boris tells Alex.

It's not long before uncle Boris meets a violent death with a caviar knife and Alex has no choice but to remember his uncle's commitment to his loved ones.

Shielding his grief-stricken and clearly alcoholic father from entering the murky gangster underworld he probably was once a major part of before fleeing to England, Alex takes them on himself.

McMafia's first episode is an interesting glimpse into the world of the corporate gangster, one that is not fought using knives and guns, but instead through the power of the computer and business.

'These wars are fought in the boardrooms, not on the streets', Alex is told as he appears to take the path towards becoming the modern-day gangster.

It's gritty and intriguing - a great storyline of a successful, handsome young man torn between the honest life he has created and his unfailing commitment to his family, keen to avenge the horrific murder of his uncle.


Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 5, Tuesday, 9pm

It's that time of the year again when the house is repainted, the diary room chair changed and a host of Z-list celebrities parade through the door.

Celebrity Big Brother is back and this year is paying homage to women.

With an all-female studio audience, female security guards and female host Emma Willis, eight contestants - all female - entered the house to mark the 100th anniversary of women receiving the vote in the UK.

Channel 5 says the series will be a "salute to a centenary of women's suffrage", although some male 'celebrities' will enter the house.

It added: "The housemates will take part in a series of entertaining tasks and hidden experiments which will test their - and our - assumptions, challenge gender stereotypes and reveal fascinating truths about what it is to be a woman - and man - in the 21st century".

Personally, I don't think this is how women back in 1918 would have wanted the 100th anniversary to be celebrated.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access