I do sometimes, if I’m honest, find it difficult to tell if I find stories set in ‘auld Edinburgh’ evocative because of the innate quality of the tales themselves, or merely because I know the place well enough to be able to visualise everything so much more easily than things set in the future of on alien worlds. Dale Smith’s The Many Hands is not the first bit of Doctor Who set down the dark, winding alleyways of that particular town - and it probably won’t be the last, either - but it’s no less successful for that.
Looking beyond the setting, this pleasingly visceral Horror story evokes the recent work of Trevor Baxendale or Mark Morris - and, in places, of TV episodes such as Tooth and Claw - rather than the off-beam western that was Smith’s only previous full-length Doctor Who tale, Heritage. The story takes full advantage of its helpfully miserable setting, and uses the Doctor and Martha well, while also giving reasonable depth to the people we meet here for the first time. Perhaps not the most original story in the world, The Many Hands nevertheless hits all its target objectives.
8 out of 10