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The Renaissance Man was the second story in the first series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by Justin Richards and featured Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela.

Publisher's summary[]

To continue Leela's education, the Doctor promises to take her to the famous Morovanian Museum. But the TARDIS lands instead in a quiet English village, where they meet the enigmatic collector Harcourt and his family.

When people start to die, reality doesn't appear quite what it was. There's something sinister going on within the walls of Harcourt's manor, and the stakes are higher than they can imagine.

The Doctor is about to discover that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.


Part 1[]

A medieval history scholar shows a fellow scholar around a castle. He is struck down suddenly by a severe headache.

The Doctor talks to Leela about the TARDIS's gravitic drift compensator when they arrive at the Morovanian Museum on Morovania Minor, for the opening of the Renaissance exhibit — but they land in the wrong place, at a medieval-styled village near the museum. They meet a dog, and the woman chasing it off — Professor Hilda Lutterthwaite, a renowned lepidopterist. After mystifying Leela with her intellectual area of interest, she departs abruptly to the nearby museum.

The Doctor and Leela proceed to the museum, where they meet Reginald Harcourt, his daughter Lizzie Harcourt, her fiancé Christopher Manners, the maid, Beryl, and the butler, Jephson. Reginald invites them to join in for tea, then to view the collection — "a collection of... everything", as Reginald puts it. Viewing the collection, Leela thinks something is wrong; she and the Doctor note spaces where things seem to have been removed. Leela goes to see the armoury, while Reginald takes the Doctor to view paintings. From the paintings, they proceed to the library.

Christopher and Lizzie take note of Leela's proficiency and knowledge of weapons. They are interrupted by Lutterthwaite, who is talking about her life's work being gone. Leela goes to find the Doctor, and Christopher and Lizzie go to find Jephson. The Doctor is in the library, where he is left alone; he notes that none of the books are older than fifty years. Leela finds him and takes him to help Lutterthwaite; along the way, he is struck with a severe toothache. He pushes the pain away, but they hear a gunshot from the armoury; they find that Lutterthwaite has shot herself. Christopher and Lizzie arrive, and the Doctor suggests checking the cameras, but Christopher and Lizzie cannot see the camera on the wall.

Paintings which were missing are now present. Also, in the library, other items have appeared, including text in books which previously was not there. The Doctor notes that some of the information is incorrect, based on statements he himself made which were misunderstood. At that time, the police arrive to view the body.

The officer that arrives is Inspector Reginald Harcourt, accompanied by Sergeant Jephson. The Doctor and Leela are stunned; why are these people now appearing in a different identity than that which they've already displayed, and acting as though they don't recognise the Doctor and Leela?

The officers state that this is the third such incident this week. However, Leela notices a door that was not there before, and she and the Doctor take it. Inside is a brand new room, filled with butterfly samples, including the one that Lutterthwaite was following. Harcourt comes in, and claims ownership of the room; when the Doctor asks him about being a policeman, he calls it a hobby. After some tense discussion, he calls for Jephson to arrest them; Leela knocks him down, and they escape. Jephson chases them through the grounds and into the wood, accompanied by Christopher, who is now a constable. The Doctor and Leela elude the officers, who comment that they are heading toward "the castle", but Leela slips away from the Doctor.

Leela finds a man in distress, who begs her for help. (His voice identifies him as the afflicted man from the opening teaser.) He says that if the others catch her, they will "take everything". He claims to be the doctor — but not the same Doctor — and is disorientated. Meanwhile, he Doctor finds the castle, and meets Beryl there. He doubles back and finds Leela and the other doctor, whom he recognises as medieval scholar Dr Henry Carnforth. As they compare notes, the Doctor realises that Harcourt and his associates are stealing the knowledge from the minds of those around them, including Lutterthwaite and Carnforth. Suddenly, Leela realises she is losing her memory of how to track their location — she too is being affected. The Doctor realises that calling this section a "Renaissance" section is a misnomer; "Renaissance" represents a new era of knowledge, and the museum's systems are creating just that, by taking the knowledge from those on site. However, where it should be making copies, it is taking the original data from the minds of those affected... and any number of scholars, great minds who can change the course of history, will soon be here. The man who could control this system would become supremely knowledgeable — a true "Renaissance Man". However, he would also be extremely dangerous. The Doctor assures Carnforth that his own mind is protected, and he leads them to the TARDIS.

At the TARDIS, he plans to tap into the museum systems and reverse the effects. However, they are ambushed by Harcourt and Jephson. Jephson assures him that nothing has gone wrong with the systems, however, and Harcourt says they will be arrested for the murder of Carnforth. Carnforth is still alive... but Harcourt shoots him immediately, and arrests them.

Part 2[]

Leela draws a knife, but the Doctor makes her give it up to Jephson. Harcourt takes them back to his office at a local police station, where Lizzie is typing a report, and Beryl is serving as well. Harcourt says that here, they collect people; he displays a book full of life stories of thousands of people. Leela notes that the book seems to go on no matter how many pages you turn. Jephson insists that the book includes everyone from this period, but the Doctor gives him another name, which is not in the book, causing consternation; the Doctor feeds them a long and colourful story about the unknown man. Elsewhere, Christopher and Lizzie now seem to have morphed into a surgeon and nurse; Manning comments that the Doctor is uncooperative, and orders preparation for surgery.

The Doctor gets a phone call from the dog they encountered upon arrival. It makes no sense, but the Doctor concludes that this artificial reality is unravelling. He argues that they should not take the knowledge from the arriving scholars, when they can have a copy instead. Harcourt insists it does not work as well as anticipated. He states that they intend to continue accumulating knowledge, for the sake of what he can accomplish with it. Manning arrives and takes the Doctor for surgery, as his knowledge cannot be removed the normal way. Leela attacks Manning and frees the Doctor, and they run.

In a new room, they encounter a room full of bottled drinks; outside are a number of Spitfire planes. Christopher and Lizzie arrive, now having morphed into a pilot and a plane delivery woman. The Doctor discovers that despite appearances, they do remember their other identities, but they are not supposed to show it. Harcourt arrives outside as the squadron's wing commander, and the Doctor and Leela exit, leaving Christopher and Lizzie to fret over what is happening to them, but their memories are beginning to clear.

Outside, the Doctor and Leela run from a group of Messerschmidts; it seems Harcourt would rather kill the Doctor than let him escape. They escape into another building, where Leela finds herself alone. Beryl — now appearing as a secretary — meets her and identifies the place as Harcourt International. She refers her to the twelfth floor for a meeting with the Doctor. On the twelfth floor, Beryl appears again, and this time indicates that the Doctor in question is Harcourt. Leela grapples with her, and pushes her through a window; she tries to pull Beryl back up, but the woman falls, apparently to her death. However, Leela goes down and finds that she is alive, though badly damaged.

The Doctor has found himself in a Western saloon. He is confronted by Christopher and Lizzie, now in Western guise; they claim not to know him, but they call him the Doctor. He calls them out on it and insists they are not real, but are based on archetypes through history. With his sonic screwdriver, he demonstrates that they are just empty shells. Harcourt arrives in the guise of a marshal, and orders Christopher to arrest him; but he does not now that he knows the truth. Harcourt summons Jephson instead, but Leela arrives in his place; she has incapacitated Jephson and taken his gun, as well as her knife.

The Doctor says they are heading for the TARDIS, and leaves with Leela. Outside, he changes course, and they head for the manor house instead. Harcourt and Jephson go there themselves, with Lizzie, Manning, and the damaged Beryl. When the Doctor and Leela arrive, Harcourt tells the Doctor he is already taking the Doctor's knowledge, bit by bit, but the Doctor assures him he has bitten off more than he can chew. The Doctor assures Harcourt that the human brain cannot absorb the scale of information in question; a separate storage system is needed — a library. To prove his point, he quizzes Harcourt on random facts. Harcourt gets the questions right, but the Doctor uses this to reveal that Harcourt is not the real "Renaissance Man"... he is the library. The Doctor makes the point that love, emotion, experience — these are just as important as knowledge. He is contradicted, however, by Jephson, who is the Renaissance Man. The Doctor reveals that he had planted the information for one of his questions, which was not real at all; when Harcourt was able to produce an answer, it was a clue to the truth about him. Other statements he has made have also been false. These errors in the data have had a "butterfly effect" in the database, and now the projections around them, the library and the rest of the building, and the entire world of the museum are coming apart. Harcourt rejects Jephson's plea for help as the manor begins to collapse.

Leela has recovered her tracking skills; and amid the destruction, she flees with the Doctor back to the TARDIS just in time, as the academics will be arriving soon.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor and Leela discuss the value of knowledge, and how it is not worth more than even one life. He assures her that the museum's systems will have fully reset, returning everyone to their original condition — but as the academics arrive, the Renaissance section is empty. The scholars are not put off; they decide it is a metaphor for learning, which no one can fully grasp, and laugh it off.






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