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24 September 2014

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What happens in Macbeth?

Billy Banquo (Joseph Millson)

This programme was broadcast on 14 November 2005. Written by Peter Moffat.

 Watch Video Clip 1 Watch a clip of Macbeth - meet Joe and Ella »

Career chef Joe Macbeth is passionate about food. He runs Duncan Docherty's kitchen, famed for down-to-earth meat dishes that have made Docherty's restaurant famous. His kitchen crew love him, but they always remember that he's the boss. His wife Ella is the perfect maitre d', making a meal at Docherty's an experience to remember.

Returning from a late drink, Joe and best mate Billy run into three mysterious binmen, who make some prophecies for the two of them. The restaurant, they say, will gain a third Michellin star. What's more, one day it will all belong to Joe. Eagerly asking about himself, Billy is told that he won't get anything of the restaurant, but his son will.

Back at Docherty's, Joe and Billy are met by Duncan, who tells them that the restaurant has been awarded a three Michelin star rating. The celebrations are suddenly soured for Joe when Duncan mentions leaving the restaurant to his son, Malcolm, a mediocre chef at best.

Later, Ella and Joe discuss the turn of events. It's never said outright, but by the end of the night they have decided to murder Duncan when he stays at the restaurant that evening, bringing about the binmen's prophecy that Joe will get it.

The next evening, Ella has arranges everything to give the two of them an alibi, but Joe is having doubts. To push him into it, she talks about the baby they had together, and lost. Joe does the deed, but cannot go back in to finish off the alibi, so Ella does it for him - stabbing Duncan's corpse with a knife bearing the fingerprints of a casual washer-up.

After Duncan's body is discovered the next day, Ella and Joe give a tearful press conference and speak to the police. Only Billy notices that their expressions of grief are very very similar - as if they'd rehearsed them together. Meanwhile Johnny Boy, one of the other cooks, is nervous - he has done time for stabbing and thinks the police will come for him.

A few weeks later, and Joe and Ella are feeling the strain of the guilt. Joe hallucinates blood everywhere, while Ella constantly washes her hands. Driven half-mad with guilt, Joe meets with the binmen again, and asks about Billy once more. They repeat their earlier prophecy, and tell him to watch out for the chief waiter, Peter Macduff. As they leave, they tell him pigs will fly before anything happens to Joe.

Terrified that Billy will find him out, Joe forces Johnny Boy to murder him, but hallucinates his corpse sitting at the table at a breakfast meeting and freaks out. He and Ella are falling apart - driven by fear Joe has Macduff's family killed, while Ella can take no more and jumps to her death.

In a final showdown, Joe faces Peter Macduff in the kitchen. Believing nothing can harm him, Joe is cocky, but then he hears the noise of police helicopters. Pigs are flying, and Macduff stabs Macbeth to death.


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