But when the travellers arrive in a sleepy English village, you just know that things aren’t going to turn out well. Almost instantly they’re introduced to the dislikeable and pompous Harcourt, played with rich glee by Ian McNeice. His claims about knowledge and academia are clearly sinister and you just know that he’s going to cause trouble for the Doctor. Harcourt is the polar opposite of the Doctor; he’s a greedy man who craves intelligence for all the wrong reasons, straight away you won’t like him and that makes this adventure even more engaging.
Justin Richards is the man who’s been tasked with bringing the Fourth Doctor and Leela to life this month and the writer does not disappoint. His dialogue for Tom Baker is spot on, with some wonderful jokes and witticisms to keep the listener reminded that these are the adventures of the Fourth Doctor and can therefore be as light-hearted as they want. Having written for the character of Leela in quite a few other Big Finish plays, it’s no surprise that he can effortlessly give her spot on dialogue and captures her spirit so well. This tale is reminiscent of one of Richard’s Virgin Missing Adventures, bathed in the style of a classic era with some modern day updates to suit the current Doctor Who style.
The Renaissance Man is a story that never forgets its roots. At heart we’re offered a nod to the worlds of The Avengers and The Prisoner as well as classic Doctor Who. But where it delves into excellence is its pacing. It could easily fit into one of the Eleventh Doctor’s TV adventures and audiences would lap it up. There’s falling realities, World War 2 fighter planes, the Doctor talking to a dog, Ian McNeice gloating and above all, a solid and satisfying plot with a healthy conclusion.
So far, so good. We’re two adventures into Tom Baker’s run as the Big Finish Doctor and there’s yet to be a fault. Hopefully, we’ll have a rematch between the Doctor and Harcourt but for now, this will do very nicely.