Shakespeare Re-Told:




Written by:

Peter Moffat

Directed by: Mark Brozel

14 November 2005 on BBC1

Distributor: BBC
Duration: 90 Minutes




  • Joe Macbeth - JAMES MACAVOY
  • Billy Banquo - JOSEPH MILLSON
  • Duncan Docherty - VINCENT REGAN
  • Peter Macduff - RICHARD ARMITAGE


The second in a four part series of Shakespearean tales given a modern twist, this version of Macbeth was set in the heated and stressful environment of the kitchen in an exclusive Glasgow restaurant.


Joe Macbeth (James MacAvoy) is the head chef in an exclusive restaurant in Glasgow owned by famous TV chef Duncan Docherty (Vincent Regan) who is taking all the glory despite doing no work behind the scenes of the restaurant.

Later that evening after a trip to the pub, Joe and his friend Billy Banquo (Joseph Millson) meet three binmen emptying the bins outside their restaurant. The men predict that the restaurant will soon gain three Michelin stars and that Joe and Billy's sons will soon gain ownership. Back in the restaurant, Duncan arrives and informs them that they have in fact won three Michelin stars but that his son Malcolm (Toby Kebbell) will inherit the restaurant on his passing. This frustrates Joe and mystifies Billy since Malcolm's own talents in the kitchen leave much to be desired.

Frustrated by the lack of recognition, Joe is encouraged by his wife Ella (Keeley Hawes) to take decisive action, which he initially regrets but the plan is starting to form in his mind. The next day, Joe fires the two dishwashers and hires two Serbian illegal immigrants to do the job instead.

That night, while Duncan in staying with Joe and Ella, Joe enters his room and murders him. Ella decides that the Serbians will be framed for Duncan's murder and she phones immigration that night. The Serbians flee.


Joe returns from Duncan's room, unsure if any of his own blood is on the knife that he used to murder Duncan. Ella asks him to throw away his gloves and the incriminating knife in the outside bins before the binmen come, then obtain another knife and another pair of gloves from the kitchen. Ella takes the clean gloves and knife, enters Duncan's room, stabs him again and disposes of the evidence in the bins. The binmen have already taken away the first knife and gloves. Ella burns Joe's clothes.

The next morning, Peter Macduff (Richard Armitage) the head waiter, goes to wake up Duncan only to find a horrifying scene in his room. The police arrive to question everyone and the Serbians remain the chief suspects.Now that Duncan is dead, Joe becomes owner of the restaurant and takes over Duncan's TV show. Duncan's murder is affecting both of the Macbeths. He has frequent visions of vast quantities of blood and Ella continually washes her hands like one controlled by OCD to try and rid the imaginary blood from her fingers.


Joe sees the binmen again who tell him that he should watch out for Macduff and that pigs will fly before anything happens to Joe. His increasing paranoia is directed at Billy, whose sons will inherit the restaurant according to the prophetic binmen. He rows with Billy paranoid that he is the boss of the kitchen and not Billy. Billy tells Joe that he's going on a bike ride with his son before the staff breakfast meeting the next day. Joe tasks Jonny, a former ex-con into murdering Billy.

Billy is absent from the staff meeting and Ella suggests Joe checks his phone. There's a message from Billy who called when he was out riding. Then Joe's phone rings, it's a video message. Peter Macduff takes the phone and shows it around the table so that they can all see at the picture. Fearing the worst, Joe launches across the table desperately grabbing the phone before crashing to the floor. He criticises Ella in front of the staff and then sees Billy's ghost sitting and watching him. Ella asks the staff to leave, excusing her husband's strange behaviour as due to stress and lack of sleep. Joe discovers that even though Billy was cycling with his son, Jonny could not bring himself to kill the boy.

Peter and Malcolm meet and Peter insinuates that Joe has gained everything he's ever wanted from Duncan's murder.



Joe's temper is worsening. He is abusive to the kitchen staff and then violently ejects a diner from the restaurant. The rest of the diners leave in disgust. Meanwhile Ella is growing increasingly distracted, crying openly in the restaurant about her deceased child and washing her hands obsessively.

Joe tells Jonny to kill Peter Macduff or else he will tell DCI Varley that Jonny killed Billy.

Ella has lost her mind. She walks out on the roof in just a shirt, her feet bare and falls off in an apparent suicide. Jonny goes to Peter's house, shoots at the bed and doesn't realise that he's just killed Peter's entire family but not the man himself. Peter returns home to be told by the police that his family have been murdered in their beds.

Joe is told that Ella is dead and he seems unable to feel anything over his wife's death. He remains in the kitchen and Peter Macduff enters. Joe hears a helicopter landing on the roof and laughs hysterically realising that pigs will fly. Peter kills Joe, lifting him and stabbing him on the kitchen worktop.

Malcolm is now the successful owner of the restaurant and appears regularly on Duncan's television show.


Useful Links

Macbeth IMDB page

Macbeth Screencap Gallery

BBC Drama Macbeth page

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