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Well, this is a good f-cking laugh, ain't it? You sweat that shite out of your system. 'Cause if I come back and it's still here... I'll f-cking kick it out. Okay?
~ Begbie in Renton's hallucination.

Francis "Franco" Begbie is the main antagonist of Irvine Welsh's 1993 novel Trainspotting, along with its 1996 movie adaptation, and its 2017 sequel T2 Trainspotting.

Ostensibly a friend of the main characters, he barely tolerates them and all of them fear him in return; unlike most of the group, he isn't addicted to heroin - indeed, he actively looks down on them for their chemical dependence, despite being a habitual smoker and an alcoholic. However, Begbie's real addiction is to violence, and he will gladly take any opportunity to indulge it, from picking fights at the pub to mugging unsuspecting tourists.

Brutal, pugnacious and temperamental, Begbie can easily be considered mentally unstable - one accepted by the rest of the group solely for his ability to supply them with cash.

He was portrayed by Robert Carlyle, who is known for portraying Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon a Time, Renard in The World is Not Enough, and Adolf Hitler in Hitler: The Rise of Evil.



Introduced alongside his friends, Mark Renton, Daniel "Spud" Murphy, Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson, and Tommy McKenzie, Francis Begbie is one of the only two members of the group not regularly indulging in drugs - the other being Tommy. However, where Tommy is the upstanding straight man of the group, Begbie is easily the most morally reprehensible of the group next to Sick Boy. 

In his first major scene at the local pub, Begbie brags at length about beating Tommy at a game of pool and frightening off a "hard cunt" who challenged him to a fight. Tommy later reveals that Begbie was almost too hungover to hold his cue at the time and only won (barely) because Tommy was humouring him in a desperate attempt to avoid a beating; likewise, the challenger was really just a man eating a packet of crisps at the bar, Begbie ultimately beating the unfortunate man to within an inch of his life for eating too loudly. Back in the present, Begbie finishes his drink and tosses his pint glass over the balcony and into the crowd below, badly wounding a female bar patron; far from owning up, he uses this as an excuse to start a massive brawl.

Begbie spends much of the following scenes tagging along with the rest of the group, either picking up girls at the club, or helping the rest of the gang mug tourists for drug money. When Renton and Spud get caught shoplifting, Begbie is one of the party guests for the celebration of Renton's acquittal; however, Spud ends up going to prison for the next six months, and when Spud's mother arrives at the pub in a state of chronic depression, Begbie goes out of his way to insult her in front of the other party guests - freely displaying his lack of empathy for anyone bar himself. Though Begbie drifts away from the group soon after, his menacing anti-drug stance weighs heavily on Renton's mind: while being forced to go "cold turkey" by his parents, Begbie features in one of his withdrawal-induced hallucinations, threatening to beat the heroin out of him if he's still on drugs by his next visit.

Several months later, Begbie is wanted by the police for robbing a jeweller's shop at gunpoint, though he was only armed with a replica and only ended up stealing worthless costume jewellery by mistake. Now a wanted man, Begbie flees Edinburgh for London and promptly moves in with Renton - who is now working as a real estate agent and trying to start a new life free from drugs. Unable to leave the flat for fear of being caught by the police, Begbie spends most of his time lounging in front of the television and littering the room with empty cigarette packets while continuously sending Renton out to buy more cigarettes. One day, he also has Renton place a bet on a horse race - and quite unexpectedly wins big; for once in a good mood, the two friends go out to nightclub - only for Begbie to accidentally end up seducing a transvestite, and Renton's good-natured joking only brings Franco's bad temper further into the spotlight.

Sometime afterwards, Sick Boy joins the pair in London and moves in with Renton and Begbie. Unfortunately, Sick Boy is currently trying to reinvent himself as a pimp and drug dealer, and quickly becomes an even bigger problem than Begbie - particularly after he pawns a rented television set and attempts to steal Renton's passport for good measure. Unable to deal with Begbie's violent fits and Sick Boy's endless get-rich-quick schemes, Renton finally sets the two of them up with a new flat altogether - a supposedly impossible-to-sell property being leased by Renton's boss. However, when the estate agency finally finds potential buyers while the two squatters are still in the flat, Begbie ends up viciously assaulting them.

This incident ultimately forces Begbie, Renton and Sick Boy to return home to Edinburgh - both to avoid further police attention over the assault and to attend the funeral of Tommy (who had died of toxoplasmosis some time after being introduced to heroin). After being reunited with the recently-released Spud, Begbie and Sick Boy reveal a new plan to make money: one of Sick Boy's friends has accidentally acquired two kilos of high-quality heroin and now wants it off his hands at a low price of £4,000; in turn, Sick Boy has made contact with a major drug dealer in London prepared to pay top dollar for the product. Unfortunately, Begbie is able to confirm that Renton is the only one of them with the money to buy the two kilos, press-ganging him into blowing almost all his savings on the deal; for good measure, he also forces Renton to test the purity of the heroin by shooting up.

Following a tense journey to London in which Begbie spends most of his time worrying about getting caught by the police and screaming at Sick Boy for not remembering to bring a pack of cards for the coach trip, they finally meet up with the drug dealer and are able to sell the heroin for £16,000. Briefly united by mutual joy and relief, the four of them celebrate at a pub in London and discuss their plans to split the the money between the four of them; however, while Begbie is bringing back a round of drinks from the bar, another patron accidentally bumps into him, spilling beer down Begbie's shirt. Enraged, he attacks the man in a rage of fury, bashing his face against the bar and kicking him viciously in the head; Spud tries to intervene, but ends up getting his hand sliced open when Begbie draws a knife. Then, with Sick Boy insisting on leaving before the police arrive, Spud begging to go to a hospital, and an entire room full of witnesses looking on, Begbie refuses to leave until Renton brings him "a fuckin' cigarette."

The following morning, Renton comes to the conclusion that he can no longer tolerate his so-called friends or the lifestyle they have forced him back into. So, while the others are still asleep, he steals the £16,000 from Begbie and flees the hotel; however, he acknowledges that Spud never did anything wrong, and leaves £2,000 for him in a locker. Upon waking up to find the money gone, Begbie trashes the hotel room in a rage while Spud and Sick Boy hastily flee the scene; unfortunately for him, this eventually results in the police being called to investigate, presumably resulting in his arrest. Francis Begbie is last seen in the ruins of the hotel room, reaching for his knives and preparing to fight. Though he is likely only arrested for vandalism, sustained police attention likely results in the outstanding arrest warrant for armed robbery being discovered (and possibly his most recent assault cases as well), ensuring that Begbie will be serving a lengthy jail sentence.

T2 Trainspotting

20 years later, Begbie finally decides to break out of jail when his latest plea to the court falls on deaf ears and he assaults his lawyer. After having his cellmate stab him, Begbie gets taken by ambulance to hospital, where he tricks a policeman into leaving him unaccompanied and uncuffed, giving him the opportunity to escape. He chances upon a doctor, who he promptly knocks out and switches clothes with, allowing him to walk out without causing suspicion.

Free at last, Francis Begbie first reunites with his family and tries to recruit his son to be his partner-in-crime. However, "Franco Junior" is content to study Hotel Management at college instead, leaving Begbie depressed and upset. Eventually, he decides to find his old friend Simon (formerly Sick Boy) at the pub he now runs, from whom he learns that Renton has returned to Edinburgh. He then becomes obsessed with hunting Renton down as revenge for taking away his hopes and dreams when Renton stole the money and landed him in jail.

After briefly encountering Mark in a nightclub restroom (and slashing his arm open with a knife after chasing him to a multi-storey car park and Mark escaping on the roof of a car), Begbie decides to pay a visit to Spud, who has since begun writing down the stories from their childhood. Begbie initially mocks Spud for it, believing that nobody will ever read or care, but quickly becomes enamored with his writing and starts reliving his youth. When Simon's girlfriend Veronika visits Spud, Begbie steals her mobile phone and sends messages to both Renton and Simon to come to Simon's pub at midnight.

Begbie returns home one last time to tell his family that they will not see him again for a long while and wishes his son luck in life, expressing belief that he will be a greater man than either his father or his grandfather, before he leaves.

Despite Spud trying to warn them, Begbie confronts Renton and Simon in the pub, knocking Simon out for protecting Renton. He then chases Renton throughout the pub, at one point trapping him inside a small room where safe from Begbie for a moment, Renton reminds him of their first meeting in primary school, where he was made to sit next to Begbie.

This only serves to fuel Begbie's anger, as he was older at the time, being forced to repeat a year. He bitterly berates Renton for being one of the clever ones who could get ahead in life whilst he had to take what he could with his fists and crashes into the room with a hammer. Renton finally escapes onto the roof, where Begbie throws him down into the half-finished ceiling below. Renton's throat gets caught on a wire, hanging him.

Begbie then hugs Renton, wishing he died faster. However, Simon runs to Renton's rescue, covering Begbie with pepper spray. Begbie, by now all but insane, prepares to shoot them both with a shotgun, but Spud knocks Begbie unconscious with a toilet bowl. Afterward, they lock him (unconscious) in the boot of a car and park it outside HMP Edinburgh, the prison he broke out of previously, awaiting for the police to find him and send back to prison.


Picture the scene: The other f**king week there, down the f**kin' Volley with Tommy, playing pool. I'm playing like Paul-F**king'-Newman by the way. Givin' the boy here the tannin' of a lifetime. So it comes to the, down to the last shot, the deciding ball of the whole tournament. I'm on the black and he's sittin' in the corner looking all f**king biscuit-arsed. When this hard c**t comes in. Obviously f**kin' fancies himself, like. Starts staring at me. Lookin' at me, right f**kin' at me, as if to say, "Come ahead, square go." You ken me, I'm not the type of c**t that goes looking for' bother, like, but at the end of the day I'm the c--t with a pool cue and he can get the fat end in his puss any time he f**king wanted like. So I squares up, casual like. What does the hard c--t do? Or the so-called hard c**t? Sh**s it. Puts down his drink, turns, and gets the f**k out of there. And after that, well, the game was mine.
~ Begbie bragging about his version of a game of pool story.
Begbie: That lassie got glassed, and no c**t leaves here till we find out what c**t did it!
Man in the pub: Who the f**k are you?!
Begbie: Yeeeaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!
~ Begbie before breaking out a fight in the pub.
F**king listen to me you piece of junkie s**t. A joke's a f**king joke, you mention that again I'll cut you up!
~ Begbie threatening Renton.
Begbie: You bring the cards?
Sick Boy: What?
Begbie: The cards, the last thing I told you was to mind the cards.
Sick Boy: Well I've no brought them.
Begbie: Get's f**king boring after a while without the cards.
Sick Boy: Well I'm sorry.
Begbie: F**king late like.
Sick: Why didn't you bring them?
Begbie: Cause I f**king told you to bring them ya doss c**t!
~ Begbie losing his temper after Sick Boy forgot to bring cards onto the coach.
~ Begbie's final words during his villainous breakdown in T2 before being knocked out.



  • Trainspotting's director Danny Boyle originally wanted Christopher Eccleston to play Begbie. However Eccleston was unable to take the role as he was filming the series Our Friends in the North.
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