MIPTV: BBC Sells 'McMafia,' 'Sherlock' to Russia


The Russian embassy in the U.K. previously criticized the new drama for its "negative portrayal of Russians."

Russian free-to-air TV network Pyatnitsa, or "Friday" in English, which is owned by natural gas giant Gazprom, has acquired BBC Studios' McMafia, the eight-part drama series set in the international world of organized crime.

It has also struck a deal for the BBC's Sherlock franchise. The deal gives Sherlock, which previously aired in Russia on Channel One, a new TV home in Russia. The news was unveiled Tuesday at the MIPTV market in Cannes.

When McMafia premiered on BBC One on Jan. 1, the Russian embassy in the United Kingdom slammed it over its negative portrayal of Russians. "McMafia depicts Britain as a playground for Russian gangsters," the embassy said on its Twitter account then.

"We are delighted to be partnering with Pyatnitsa on this superb package of content," said Salim Mukaddam, vp and general manager for Central and Eastern Europe at BBC Studios. "Sherlock is adored in Russia and was the highest-rated non-Russian program in the territory last year. We are looking forward to taking the show to a brand-new audience through this agreement."

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

Created by Hossein Amini and James Watkins, McMafia is inspired by the best-selling nonfiction book by Misha Glenny.

The series, which stars James Norton as the son of Russian mafia exiles, raised in Great Britain, made its premiere on BBC One in the U.K., AMC in the U.S. and international premiere on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

The deal between BBC and Pyatnitsa also includes 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.