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Leonardo is a British children's television series broadcast on CBBC. The show is an adventure programme featuring a teenage Leonardo da Vinci starring Jonathan Bailey. The series is set in 15th-century Florence. A second series premiered on CBBC on 20 September 2012, starting with episodes one and two being shown back to back. For Series 2, actor James Clyde replaced Alistair McGowan in the role of Piero de' Medici.

GenreTeen drama / Adventure
StarringJonathan Bailey
Flora Spencer-Longhurst
Akemnji Ndifornyen
Colin Ryan
Alistair McGowan
James Clyde
Theme music composerMark Russell
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes26 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Anne Brogan, Melanie Stokes
Producer(s)Bernard Krichefski
CinematographyDirk Nel
Editor(s)Sue Wyatt, Philip Hookway
Original networkCBBC
Original release11 April 2011 –
6 December 2012
External links


Series overviewEdit

Packed full of mystery, adventure and comedy, the series follows the adventures of the young Leonardo da Vinci and his friends in 15th century Florence.


  • Leonardo da Vinci (Jonathan Bailey): Leonardo (A.K.A. Leo) is an artist at Verrocchio's workshop. He loves painting, inventing, and creating new things that no one else ever dreamed could work.
  • Tomaso/Lisa Gherardini (Flora Spencer-Longhurst): "Tom" is a girl who lives disguised as a male apprentice. She changed her name to Tomaso (her father's name) and ran away to join Verrocchio's workshop in Florence, in defiance of the 15th century laws that banned women from becoming artists. In the episode "Anything Is Possible" she is dragged into the catacombs by a secret society called the Luminari, who order her to steal Leonardo's notebook. In setting out to steal his notebook, Tom sets a chain of mysterious events in motion and finds herself living and working beside the gifted Leonardo himself. She is the subject of the Mona Lisa and earlier versions.
  • Niccolò Machiavelli (Akemnji Ndifornyen): Niccolò (A.K.A. Mac) is the number one man when it come to fraud or theft and has a network of urchin spies and cut-purses throughout the city. He likes money-making schemes, chariot-racing and mingling with the rich and famous. Leo sometimes has to get him out of trouble.
  • Lorenzo de' Medici (Colin Ryan): A wealthy boy, part of Florence's prestigious Medici family, he is largely bored by his life of luxury and enjoys sneaking away to join his friends. He is anxious to please his father whom he greatly admires.
  • Piero de' Medici (Alistair McGowan (series 1)/James Clyde (series 2)): An ambitious man and cousin to the Duke of Florence, Piero keeps a close eye on all happenings in Florence, especially those that concern his son Lorenzo and his friends. He heads the mysterious secret society, the Luminari.
  • Maestro Verrocchio (James Cunningham): Leo and Tom's maestro, Verrocchio is very strict and becomes impatient if his apprentices waste time. Leonardo is very loyal to his Maestro.
  • Cosimo (Thembalethu Ntuli): A servant at Verrochio's workshop.
  • Teresa de' Medici (Camilla Waldman): Lorenzo's doting mother.


Leonardo began as a novel outline by Tom Mason and Dan Danko portraying Leonardo da Vinci as a "teenage Renaissance Batman". Although never actually used in a book, Mason and Danko were able to interest the BBC in their unpublished story idea. It was optioned by the BBC in late 2009 and the pre-production was completed by summer 2010. The first series of Leonardo was shot on location in South Africa throughout the second half of 2010.[1] A second series was completed on location in Cape Town and was aired in 2012.[2] Roxane Hayward, Katie McGlynn and Pam St. Clement guest starred in the second series.

Historical accuracyEdit

A Friday Download promotion[3] for Leonardo suggested that the series is factual, but the series is misleading in certain respects. For example, in series 1, episode 5 the eponymous hero falls in love with a girl called Valentina.[4] Art historians, including Lord Clark, have argued that Leonardo da Vinci was homosexual, and had no romantic interest in women. Another problem is that the action is said to take place in Florence in 1467. However, in episode 8 Leonardo is shown in competition with Michelangelo, who was not even born until 1475. In an interview with C21 Media, co-director Melanie Stokes said that "we play fast and loose with history and it's not the job of a drama to give facts... but to inspire imagination."[5] Episode 8 accurately references Da Vinci's vegetarianism and love of nature (buying caged birds to release them).

The portrayal of Piero de' Medici as scheming to overthrow the Duke of Florence is misleading; in 1467, Medici was the de facto ruler of Florence, and the city state would only acquire a Duke in 1532, when the title was given to Piero's descendant Alessandro de' Medici.

The character of Niccolò Machiavelli is portrayed by Akemnji Ndifornyen, a black actor, whereas the real Niccolò Machiavelli was white. Furthermore, there appears to be no discernible age difference between his character and that of da Vinci, who was in reality 17 years his senior.

The characters all speak modern English, occasionally exclaiming "bella!" or "magnifico!" to remind the audience that they are supposed to be Italians. Contemporary pop songs are used for the music soundtrack.

Leonardo is frequently shown inventing things that are ahead of their time, most notably a wooden bicycle (actually invented 1817; Leo's design is close to a BMX, invented in the 1970s), which first appears in "Anything is Possible" and is later given a gunpowder engine (invented 1600s). The season one finale involves an indestructible suit of mechanical armour, and the season two ended with a "superweapon" - a mobile armoured tank with a cannon mounted in a rotating turret, an exaggeration of Leonardo da Vinci's fighting vehicle.

Leonardo's costume is also rather anachronistic, with his sneakers and chinos being more reminiscent of modern-day clothing rather than that of 15th century Florence.


In 2012, Leonardo won three KidScreen Awards for Best Non-Animated or Mixed Series, Best Music, and Best Design.[6] It was also nominated for the Ivor Novello Award for Best Television Soundtrack,[7] the Best Youth Program Award at the Banff World Media Festival,[8] and the Award for Youth Fiction at the Rose d'Or.[9] It was also nominated for a children's television award at the Prix Jeunesse International Festival in Munich.[10]


Series 1Edit

# Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"Anything Is Possible"Beryl RichardsTom Mason, Dan Danko, Pia Ashberry11 April 2011 (2011-04-11)
Leonardo has invented the bicycle, which he calls "a velocerotor". When he takes the bike out for the first time he crashes into a street artist named Tomaso, who soon gets himself an apprenticeship with Leonardo at Verrocchio's workshop. After Leonardo and his friends find out that Tom has stolen Leonardo's notebook, he claims he was forced to steal it by a sinister secret society called the Luminari. But there is more to Tom than first meets the eye.
2"Da Vinci's Code"Beryl RichardsAlex Perrin11 April 2011 (2011-04-11)
Piero has Leonardo's notebook but as the notebook is written entirely in code he finds his plans thwarted. Professor Pico is asked to decipher the code. After Leo finds out that Pico is linked to the theft, Pico is able to convince him that he just a victim of Luminari's schemes and attempts to convince him to tell him the secret code.
3"Wing And A Prayer"Beryl RichardsTom Mason, Dan Danko, Pia Ashberry18 April 2011 (2011-04-18)
Leonardo's latest invention sees him flying high, but he ends up being brought down to earth with a bump after he attempts to assist Mac out of a tricky situation.
4"Something Wicked"Luke WatsonBrian Jordan25 February 2011 (2011-02-25)
Leonardo and his group of friends attempt to save an unhappy bride from her villainous fiancé. He has taken Petronella as payment for her father's debts and unknown to Leonardo he also works for the mysterious Luminari.
5"It Must Be Love"Beryl RichardsBrian Jordan2 May 2011 (2011-05-02)
Romance is in the air, but complications arise because the feelings are not mutual, and first looks deceive.
6"The Lightning Box"Luke WatsonKirstie Falkous9 May 2011 (2011-05-09)
Piero is to hold an exhibition of the greatest treasures in Europe and Lorenzo is able to sneak Leo in for a look around. After somebody from Mac's past shows up with his own designs, Leo ends up begging Lorenzo for a chance to borrow the exhibit which causes friction amongst his friends.
7"Time Waits"Beryl RichardsAlex Perrin16 May 2011 (2011-05-16)
Leo and his friends end up facing a race against time after they find an unusual watch. They attempt to unlock the watch's secrets before Piero's men find them.
8"Angels and Cherubs"Luke WatsonPia Ashberry, Dan Danko, Tom Mason23 May 2011 (2011-05-23)
Tensions end up running high when Leonardo finds himself pitted in an artistic battle against his rival Michelangelo.
9"Lost and Found"Luke WatsonAlan Perrin30 May 2011 (2011-05-30)
The truth about Lisa's double life is close to being revealed after she receives a visitor she was not expecting.
10"Servants of Florence"Beryl RichardsTBA6 June 2011 (2011-06-06)
A startling discovery is made by Lisa after she gate-crashes a party to catch a glimpse of a champion sportsman. After Lisa hears Piero talking she makes a connection with the shadowy figure she saw in the catacombs and realises who he is.
11"Bandit Queen"Beryl RichardsBrian Lynch13 June 2011 (2011-06-13)
After Lorenzo falls in love he soon finds out that following his heart could end up seeing both himself and his friends being led into danger.
12"Fireball"Luke WatsonDanny Peake20 June 2011 (2011-06-20)
Leo and Lisa are summoned to the Medici Palace to undertake a special commission. Since they have stolen back Leo's notebook and Piero knows Lisa is a girl, they fear the worst. However Piero is charming and explains that he wants Leo to join forces with him for the good of Florence, and when he discovers that Piero has had all his designs built, Leo is completely taken in. But it turns out that Piero intends using one of Leo's inventions to assassinate the Duke and now it is Leo's word against a Medici—in a matter of life or death.
13"Enter the Robot"Luke WatsonBrian Lynch4 July 2011 (2011-07-04)
Piero puts his sinister plan into action when his large robot based on one of Leo's designs begins terrorizing the city and Leo and his friends must stop it before it is too late.

Series 2Edit

# Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"Illusion"Rob EvansPia Ashberry20 September 2012 (2012-09-20)
Tom and Mac shadow Leonardo to protect him from Piero's threats, but it is Verocchio that becomes the target of his schemes.
2"Perspective"Rob EvansPia Ashberry20 September 2012 (2012-09-20)
With Verrochio framed for murder and Leo's dad on Piero's side, time is running out. Leo gets himself arrested so he can be with Verocchio and they put up a canvas to make it look like they have broken out when in actual fact they are behind the canvas, they both run away to where Lorenzo's horse is waiting outside the gates, but the guards catch up with them, arresting both of them. The trial goes ahead with the judge asking if Leonardo should be executed along with Verocchio for trying to help him escape, but Leo's dad convinces everyone he is only a boy and should be saved, then at the last minute, Piero gives evidence that clears Verocchio's name, he later reveals to Placidi that this was always his plan, for a much bigger scheme.
3"The Betrothal Ball"Rob EvansPia Ashberry27 October 2012 (2012-10-27)
There is an evening of surprises and danger in store when the Medici throw a lavish masked ball in Lorenzo's honour. The Medici's want to announce Lorenzo's marriage to Angelica, who has come to the masked ball in exactly the same costume as Lisa. Piero has made plans to have Lorenzo and Angelica kidnapped as part of his plan to blame Milan, but this goes awry when Lisa and Lorenzo are kidnapped instead. Meanwhile, Leo puts on Lorenzo's mask and Mac tells him that he likes Lisa but Lisa only has eyes for Leo, which shocks him as he had no idea! Thanks to Lisa, Lorenzo and herself are rescued and return to the Palace where Piero is playing the worried father. Leo asks Lisa if she likes him but she denies it!
4"Cat and Mouse"Rob EvansPia Ashberry4 October 2012 (2012-10-04)
Lorenzo decides to live life on the wild side when he meets the fun-loving, carefree Bruno, but Mac is convinced Bruno is bad news,Bruno ends up using Lorenzo as an alibi as he steals from his former employer, this leads Lorenzo to discover who his true friends are and be grateful that someone is always watching his back.
5"Diabolical Acts"Rob EvansPia Ashberry11 October 2012 (2012-10-11)
When a travelling theatre group comes to Florence, the whole city is excited, especially Leo and Tom, who get starring roles in the play. But when the performance gets underway,something sinister is going on behind the scenes. The other two actors are planning on stealing the priceless Medici Sapphire and when Leo works out what they are doing, he gets tied up, leaving Lisa continuing to act alone on stage with no idea of what is going on beneath her.
6"Dragon Hunt"Rob EvansDaniel Peak18 October 2012 (2012-10-18)
A mysterious man asks Leo for help, claiming that he knows the location of a huge treasure and that his brother went missing trying to find it. Leo follows the cryptic clues across the city, whilst Lisa and Mac become concerned that the man is lying, they too try and follow the clues, failing at the first one and going hopelessly in the wrong direction. Once they are returning to the workshop, they again find the man who went off with Leo, he tells them that Leo has died on the hunt (which is a lie and both Lisa and Mac realise this) so they trick him into leading them back to Leonardo and go on a rescue mission for him. Meanwhile, Piero kills his own cousin so that he can be Duke of Florence.
7"The Mask of Death"Rob EvansAlexander Perrin25 October 2012 (2012-10-25)
When Leo is given the task of making a death mask of the old Duke, he soon realises the story of his death doesn't add up and begins a dangerous investigation, he approaches the local doctor to do a post-mortem, the doctor then tells Piero of Leo's concerns and Piero has the doctor shot to show Leo that the Milanese do use poison. This deception spurs Leonardo on to building a super weapon to avenge the doctor and fight the Milanese
8"Stupid Cupid"Rob EvansAlexander Perrin1 November 2012 (2012-11-01)
Piero prepares for his coronation and Mac lands himself in hot water when he gets Lorenzo's fiancée mixed up with a vengeful smuggler.
9"The Tortoise and the Hare"Steve HughesPia Ashberry8 November 2012 (2012-11-08)
Leo's idea for a superweapon could prove fatal when his explosive tests enrage the new Duke of Florence.
10"By the Sword"Steve HughesDaniel Peak15 November 2012 (2012-11-15)
Tom's hot temper lands her in a duel with the world's number one fencing champion, while Leonardo begins work on building his superweapon. The fencing champion humiliates a little boy so Lisa steps up to fight him, he laughs at her not wanting to fight a girl so she returns as Tomaso and fights agrees to fight him at a later date. As she is losing this fight badly, Mac goes to Leo, who is incredibly busy and tells him that Lisa needs his help so Leo drops his work, agreeing to help. he uses light bombs to distract him, allowing Lisa to win the fight.
11"Hitched"Steve HughesBrian Jordan22 November 2012 (2012-11-22)
As the countdown to Lorenzo's wedding gets closer, the gang launch a risky scheme to try get him out of his big day. They decide to set Lorenzo up with Lisa with Leo pretending to be her father who supposedly has a bigger dowry than Angelica and Piero arranges for them to marry after Lorenzo and Lisa kiss. Angelica opens up to her father and tells his that she doesn't want to marry Lorenzo. So when Lisa's marriage to him falls through at the last minute. Piero tries to set him up again with Angelica, but this falls through as her father stands up to her. She then leaves Florence, leaving Mac dejected as he was led to believe that they would live together-but Angelica can't face to leave her father.
12"The Fugitive"Steve HughesBrian Lynch and Pia Ashberry29 November 2012 (2012-11-29)
With the city on the brink of war and Piero's plans near completion, Leo risks everything to help a young girl and her grandma when they are accused of being Milanese spies. Guest starring Scout from Waterloo Road
13"The Dogs Of War"Steve HughesPia Ashberry, Brian Lynch and Melanie Stokes6 December 2012 (2012-12-06)
After being betrayed by his master, Placidi reveals all of Piero's secrets to Leo. Leo and his friends must convince Duke Rocco of Piero's treachery and keep the superweapon from falling into Piero's hands. A plot full of twists and turns sees Leonardo, Mac and Rocco all arrested whilst Lorenzo is fed lies by his father and Lisa is trying to help a severely wounded Placidi.


In 2012 an online game based on the second series was released. Entitled Leonardo, the game allows players to defeat the villain Il Drago who has stolen Leonardo's inventions.[11] The game was nominated for a 2013 KidScreen Award for Best Companion Website.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mason, Tom. "Leonardo On CBBC". Comix 411. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  2. ^ "New and returning drama". BBC. 10 February 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  3. ^ CBBC Friday Download - 6 May 2011
  4. ^ Mason, David (2 April 2012). "Continued LGBT discrimination at the BBC would let down a new generation". Pink News. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Reading up on young Da Vinci". C21 Media. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  6. ^ Castleman, Lana. "And the 2012 Kidscreen Awards go to…". Kidscreen.
  7. ^ "All-female shortlist is a first for Ivor Novello awards". BBC News. 17 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  8. ^ "2012 Nominee Showcase". Banff World Media Festival. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  9. ^ "Nominees". Rose d'Or. Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  10. ^ "Prix Jeunesse International Finalists TV". Prix Jeunesse International München. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  11. ^ Dickson, Jeremy (14 September 2012). "BBC commissions Kindle and Plug-in Media for online games". Kidscreen. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  12. ^ Dickson, Jeremy (19 November 2012). "2013 Kidscreen Awards nominees announced". IKids News.

External linksEdit