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Banquo confronts the Doctor and Jamie in an alternative version of Act III Scene III. (PROSE: The True Tragedie of Macbeth)

You may be looking for Hamlet Macbeth.

Macbeth was a play written by William Shakespeare. It was also the name of the titular character, who went on to become the King of Scotland.



Shakespeare had read about Macbeth of Scotland, who had ruled the country in the 11th century, in Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. Partly due to the elements of witchcraft and regicide in Macbeth's story, he determined him to be a "perfect subject" for a play to be put before King James I. It also gave Shakespeare a chance to depict James' ancestor, Banquo, in a good light and he also made sure to "pander" to James' hatred of witchcraft and his fear of assassination. (PROSE: The Empire of Glass)

There was some evidence that the finished text contained "interpolations" drawn from the work of Thomas Middleton. (PROSE: The True Tragedie of Macbeth)


Macbeth was the shortest of Shakespeare's tragedies, leading many critics to speculate that the text first printed in the Folio was a heavily edited version of what was originally a play of similar length to Othello and King Lear. Evidence also existed that some scenes had been heavily cut. The Shakespeare Notebooks contained some of an early draft of the play, then entitled The True Tragedie of Macbeth, featuring the three additional characters of the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe who were clearly based upon the Second Doctor and his companions Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot. This subplot was ultimately omitted from the finished play with The Shakespeare Notebooks speculating this was "likely" for reasons of "staging, dramatic unity, and plausibility".

In Act I Scene III of this draft, the Doctor and his friends arrived in Scotland after "some small malfunction" of the Tardis circuits had brought them to a "blasted heath". They later encountered Macbeth and Banquo though attempted to avoid their path. In their subsequent conversation, Jamie and Zoe let slip their knowledge of them both by telling Macbeth he would soon become Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland while they told Banquo he would "beget kings" but wouldn't be one himself. The trio then disappeared "into the air" when they were suddenly returned to the Tardis.

In Act II Scene III, the Doctor and his friends "landed properly" at Macbeth's castle with the aim of preventing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth from conspiring to murder the King. As the Doctor explained to Jamie, as he knew his destiny he would now "want to slay the King and take his sov'reign throne". However, after being allowed entrance by the porter and secretly observing a conversation between Macduff and Lenox, the Doctor realised they were too late as the murder had already happened. Macduff discovered the King's corpse and the trio fled to avoid being blamed for the act. In Act II Scene V, a servant found the Doctor and Jamie in the castle and informed them that Macbeth, who was now the King, required their services.

In Act III Scene I, believing they were "unscrupulous villains prepar'd to kill to please their king", Macbeth ordered the Doctor and Jamie to murder Banquo, who Macbeth saw as a threat due to Jamie's earlier prophecy. They encountered Banquo and his son Fleance in Act III Scene III but, wishing to avoid bloodshed, the Doctor told Banquo of their instructions but said he "wielded no thought of harm". Fleance was advised to flee to Wales with Banquo soon to follow, but the Doctor needed Banquo's help to fully convince Macbeth that he was actually slain. In Act III Scene IV, Macbeth hosted a banquet with many of his lords in attendance. The Doctor was also there and claimed to have killed both Banquo and Fleance. During the meal, thanks to a perception filter given to him by the Doctor, Banquo appeared several times to Macbeth as a ghostly figure and tormented him. This severely frigtened Macbeth but concerned the other guests, who were unable to see Banquo, eventually resulting in Lady Macbeth putting a premature end to proceeding as he grew "worse and worse". Banquo then left for Wales while Macbeth decided to visit the Weird Sisters.

The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe disguised as the Weird Sisters in an early draft of Act IV Scene I. (PROSE: The True Tragedie of Macbeth)

In Act IV Scene I, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe disguised themselves as the Weird Sisters to meet Macbeth with Zoe doing most of the talking. Macbeth asked for knowledge of his future and Zoe provided him with three pieces of information, to "beware Macduff", that "none of woman born" should harm him and that he would not be vanquished until Great Birnam Wood came to Dunsinane. As a final request, he asked if Banquo's issue would ever rule in the kingdom and to this he was met with images of a long line of Scottish kings on the cave wall, thus confirming his fears. At the end of the scene, Macbeth was told by Lenox that Macduff had fled to England, prompting him to proclaim his desire to seize Fife and put Macduff's wife and children to "the sword". The Doctor overheard this exchange and successfully offered his and Jamie's services to Macbeth again. In Act IV Scene II, in a similar vein to their encounter with Banquo, they met Lady Macduff in her castle and warned her of the danger she was in, also telling her that Macbeth had accused Macduff of high treason. She fled with her children soon after this, with the Doctor expressing the opinion that they would be "all right" as long as they "[lay] low for a while".

In Act V Scene I, while speaking to a gentlewoman, the Doctor posed as the doctor who was called to discover the cure to Lady Macbeth's "new-found malady". The Doctor spoke to the gentlewoman about Lady Macbeth's condition, which he later diagnosed as either parasomnia or post-traumatic stress. They also observed as Lady Macbeth entered while sleepwalking and spoke words which incriminated her in the murder of the King. The Doctor subsequently told Jamie she was "past curing now". In Act V Scene III, a servant told Macbeth there were ten thousand English soldiers outside the castle. He also spoke to the Doctor about his wife's state but became frustrated when he said he couldn't cure her and instead went to fight the English army. The Doctor stated he would "fight and lose" as he would not realise his men were outnumbered until it was too late as they had concealed their might with camouflage. In Act V Scene IV, Zoe met with Malcolm, Macduff, Banquo and the other English forces in Great Birnam Wood. She suggested they use leaves and branches from the forest so Macbeth did not suspect their approach, thus fulfilling her earlier prophecy. In Act V Scene VIII, the Doctor and his friends reflected on their time in Scotland as the army lay siege to the main gates. They then left in the Tardis "bound for another adventure". (PROSE: The True Tragedie of Macbeth)


First performance[]

On 5 November 1605, the script of Macbeth was on a balcony of the Houses of Parliament. (GAME: The Gunpowder Plot)

In 1609, the play was performed before King James and Queen Anne at Hampton Court Palace. Richard Burbage portrayed the titular character while Henry Condell played Banquo. Hal Berridge was meant to appear as Lady Macbeth but was taken ill and lay in a fever just before the production was due to start resulting in Shakespeare himself stepping into the role at short notice.

In Act I Scene III, Macbeth (and Banquo) confronted the witches on the "blasted heath". After this encounter, they vanished, prompting Banquo to ask where they had gone. Macbeth responded magisterially with the words "into the air". Macbeth later sent his wife a letter which detailed his meeting with the Weird Sisters and their prophecy that he would eventually become the King of Scotland. Upon reading it, she realised that for him to be King, the present King had to be murdered.

At the end of Act IV, the First Doctor and his companion Vicki Pallister clambered onto the stage in order to get Shakespeare to take an amnesia pill. The actor who was on the stage at the time hissed at them to get off but the Doctor claimed to be a friend of the King and threatened that he would be "most displeased" if he was not allowed to participate in the production. The actor exited rapidly through the curtain and, although there was some commotion backstage, the play was allowed to continue with the Doctor and Vicki assuming the roles of Lady Macbeth's doctor and the gentlewoman respectively. the Doctor first asked the gentlewoman about the last time Lady Macbeth walked in her sleep. He then asked her what Lady Macbeth had said during these episodes but the gentlewoman closed this avenue of questioning by replying "nothing I can report". Lady Macbeth then entered with a [light]]. The Doctor wondered how she had obtained the light and observed that her eyes were open, the gentlewoman adding "but there's nobody home". The Doctor had helped Vicki with her lines through cues and gestures and was also attempting to discretely persuade Shakespeare to take the amensia pill during the scene. It was at around this point that the explosion of a Jamarian space shuttle distracted Shakespeare and the audience enough for the Doctor to force-feed him the pill.

As the Doctor subsequently summarised, King James was "slightly annoyed at the abrupt curtailment of the play but the free firework display outside the Palace mollified him somewhat" while Shakespeare had forgotten the events of the last few days and was confined to bed for a short time. (PROSE: The Empire of Glass) The Fourth Doctor later recalled to Sarah Jane Smith that he had played the Doctor alongside Shakespeare when Macbeth opened at the Globe Theatre. (PROSE: Managra)

Later performances[]

Robert Dodds believed his role as Banquo in the play to be his greatest triumph; most thought he was a poor actor. He was killed by Pamela whilst reciting his lines from the play. Two plaques with speeches from the play adorned Dodds' home, Banquo Manor. (PROSE: The Banquo Legacy)

At some point prior to 2606, the Galyari performed Macbeth on Berkoff IV. (AUDIO: The Crystal of Cantus)


It was considered bad luck to quote from Macbeth, or "the Scottish play", in a theatre. (AUDIO: The Book of Kells) The Doctor superstitiously referred to the play in this way during both his sixth (AUDIO: Medicinal Purposes) and eighth incarnations. (AUDIO: The Next Life, The Book of Kells)

After killing a Cyberman by using gold dust and a Cybermat, the Fourth Doctor quoted the play: "Dusty death. Out, out—". (TV: Revenge of the Cybermen)

While being tortured by Reverend Merodach in the Land of Fiction, the Sixth Doctor quoted the play. (AUDIO: Night's Black Agents) He also quoted it by telling Peri Brown that what one says could be "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing". (AUDIO: Whispers of Terror)

The Twelfth Doctor quoted the play by telling Clara Oswald and Jagganth Daiki-Nagata: "To die, to die. Glamis hath murdered sleep, therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more." (TV: Sleep No More)