‘The Renaissance Man’ (Audio)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Doctor and Leela meet the Renaissance Man

For Timelord007, who is a Tom Baker fan of ‘Doctor Who’.

I thoroughly enjoyed this audio adventure in ‘The Fourth Doctor Adventures’ range by Big Finish.

It’s the second of these audio adventures with Tom Baker as the Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela. ‘The Renaissance Man’ is the quintessential ‘Doctor Who’ that is funny, scary and unusual at the same time.

The story’s structure is very captivating despite it being a two-part adventure and it features a very good guest cast. The guest cast includes Ian McNeice, Gareth Armstrong and Anthony Howell. This is a truly worthy ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure to have and enjoy especially from the realm of Big Finish.

This two-part adventure is by Justin Richards, who has largely contributed to the world of ‘Doctor Who’ as the editor of the BBC books and has written the occasional Big Finish audio. I do enjoy a ‘Doctor Who’ adventure in book and audio by Justin Richards whenever I get the chance to hear them.

I’ve had my CD cover of ‘The Renaissance Man’ signed by Louise Jameson at ‘Regenerations 2016’ in Swansea, September 2016 and by Ian McNeice at the ‘Worcester Comic Con’ in August 2016. I had a nice time chatting to Ian McNiece about his time in ‘Doctor Who’ including playing Winston Churchill.

In the story, the Doctor intends to continue with Leela’s education. Thus he sets the TARDIS on course for the Morovanian Museum on Morovania Minor. But instead of going to the museum, the Doctor and Leela find themselves arriving in an English village. Something strange is going on during this story.

The Doctor and Leela eventually meet Mr. Harcourt, who is a collector of many things. And this isn’t just items of memorabilia from Earth’s history. It’s also people’s knowledge and experience. Harcourt seems like the perfect ‘renaissance man’ who knows everything. This can be pretty dangerous indeed.

Gareth Armstrong, Anthony Howell, Louise Jameson, Tom Baker and Ian McNeice in ‘The Reniassance Man’.

I liked the ideas and the concepts by Justin Richards, as he comes up with a story about the Doctor meeting the perfect villain. He addresses that Tom Baker’s Doctor is the ‘renaissance man’. Thus by pitting him against somebody else who is very knowledgeable and cleverer as him is pretty interesting.

Also, the idea of a mastermind stealing knowledge from other people that are living in this English-type of village set in this museum is very intriguing, disturbing and frightening at the same time. I did like the plot twists featured throughout Justin Richards’ tale. You’re never quite sure what is going on.

Tom Baker excels as the Doctor and clearly enjoys the lines he’s given. I enjoyed it when he and Leela first arrive and he’s baffled and bemused by where they are. I liked it when he and Leela meet Harcourt and his family. They treat this situation as normal as first before they discover that something’s wrong.

The Doctor works out things about what Harcourt’s been doing and is pretty disturbed by how he’s stealing knowledge. Tom’s Doctor and Harcourt are at loggerheads with each other by testing each other’s knowledge. The Doctor soon comes up with this pretty clever way in order to defeat his enemy.

I also liked Louise Jameson as Leela in this adventure. Louise balances the curiosity and savagery of Leela very well. I found it funny when Leela tried to use her knife to attack Harcourt and Jephson. “Better let them have it, Leela,” the Doctor said as Leela took it literally before the Doctor told her off.

Leela shows her interest in weaponry and gets to demonstrate her ability to learn throughout this adventure when the Doctor is teaching her. She becomes disturbed when her hunting knowledge gets stolen and she gets separated from the Doctor. I liked Leela’s mispronunciation of ‘runny science man’.

Ian McNeice in ‘The Renaissance Man’.

Ian McNeice (Winston Churchill from ‘Doctor Who’) guest stars as Harcourt. Ian is the ‘perfect villain’ for Tom Baker’s Doctor since he claims to know everything about every period of Earth history. I found it very creepy when Harcourt seemed to know everything and worked opposite to Tom Baker’s Doctor.

Gareth Armstrong in ‘The Renaissance Man’.

Gareth Armstrong (from ‘The Masque of Mandragora’) guest stars as Jephson, Harcourt’s butler. Jephson is a pretty ruthless character who’s loyal to his master. This is when he’s his butler and working with him as policeman. Jephson has a character twist in the story. One which I did not expect!

Anthony Howell in ‘The Renaissance Man’.

Anthony Howell (from the BBC TV production of ‘Wives and Daughters’) guest stars Edward, Lizzie’s fiancé and Harcourt’s son-in-law. Edward seems to be a genuinely mild-mannered person at first. As the story unfolds though, there is a lot more to both Edward and Lizzie as they are not what they seem.

Daisy Ashford (the daughter of Geoffrey Beevers who is the Master and Caroline John who is Liz Shaw) guest stars as Lizzie, Harcourt’s daughter and Edward’s fiancée. Lizzie is an equally nice character like Edward, but she has a certain mystery to her when the story unfolds. There is more to her than it seems.

My favourite character from this adventure has to be Scruffy the dog. I found it very funny when the little doggie ran up to the Doctor and Leela once they arrived. I laughed when Scruffy was called by his owner. The Doctor went “Who’s calling me, Scruffy?” and Leela called out, “Goodbye, Scruffy dog.”

It was funny when Scruffy was on the telephone and the Doctor found himself talking to him. Tom’s lines with the dog are funny as he said “Woof to the family!” before hanging up. Tom delivers his lines superbly as the Doctor; especially when he is serious about not understanding what Scruffy’s just said.

I have enjoyed ‘The Renaissance Man’ very much with the Doctor and Leela. These ‘Fourth Doctor Adventures’ by Big Finish bring back nostalgic from the 1970s. This is a really good story that features a superb guest cast with the Doctor, Leela and Scruffy the dog. I am certain you’ll enjoy this adventure!

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of this disc, there are some behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Ian McNeice, Gareth Armstrong, Anthony Howell and writer Justin Richards. There’s a trailer for the next story with the Doctor and Leela called ‘The Wrath of the Iceni’.

‘The Renaissance Man’ rating – 8/10

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2 thoughts on “‘The Renaissance Man’ (Audio)

  1. Timelord 007

    Great review Tim, i enjoyed this story very much & listened to it several times, i love the interplay between the Fourth Doctor & Harcourt (A excellent performance by Ian McNiece) it adds that battle of wits element that was seen in The Mind Robber.

    Great cast, Tom Bakers bonkers but brilliant performance & great see Leela getting better characterized in these audio dramas, Louise Jamesons a great actress & nice hear she’s given more to do than on tv.

    Perfectly summed up my friend i thoroughly enjoyed this story & find it to be one of Justin Richards best written story’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Renaissance Man’.

      It is very good with Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Ian McNeice and the rest of the cast. It is a good interplay between the Doctor and Harcourt and you’re right there are element of ‘The Mind Robber’ involved in the story.

      I’m pleased with how the Fourth Doctor and Leela’s relationship and interplay has turned out in the Big Finish audios compared to the TV series. I hope to discover more with the more recent Big Finish audios featuring that TARDIS duo as well as the ones with them and K-9.

      Many thanks for your comments Simon.

      Tim. 🙂



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