New images show David Tennant as Scots serial killer Dennis Nilsen in new true-crime drama

Dr Who actor is playing notorious serial killer and necrophile in harrowing new ITV series, Des.

David Tennant has undergone a chilling transformation for his latest television role as a notorious Scottish serial killer.

The Bathgate-born actor is playing Dennis Nilsen, who confessed to killing 15 men in London between the years of 1978 and 1983, in a brand new ITV drama that is set to be broadcast in September.

Titled Des, the three-part series will follow Angus-born Nilsen’s trial, which ended with his imprisonment for life in 1983.

Referred to as the ‘kindly killer’, Nilsen was a civil servant who would meet and befriend these men before offering them food or lodgings for the evening back at his North London flat. His victims were often homeless or living off-grid, having slipped through the cracks of 1980s society and were therefore welcoming of this stranger’s apparent generosity.

When he was finally caught on 9 February 1983, Nilsen had murdered as many as 15 men over a period of five years, making him Britain’s most prolific serial killer of the time.

After his arrest, Nilsen was astonishing in his honesty: initially admitting outright to all fifteen murders in the police car outside his flat. But infuriatingly for the investigating detectives, he couldn’t remember his victims’ names. With no apparent motive, inconclusive forensic evidence and most of Nilsen’s victims living off-grid, the police started the biggest manhunt investigation in UK history. This time not for the murderer, but for the murdered.

The story is told through the prism of three isolated men – a detective, a biographer, and Nilsen himself.

While Detective Peter Jay (Daniel Mays) and the police investigation’s attempt to get justice for as many victims as possible provides the narrative and emotional spine, the relationship between Nilsen and his biographer Brian Masters (Jason Watkins) allows us to delve into the mind of one of the most emotionally elusive serial killers the world has ever seen.

Des will premiere in September 2020, but ITV are yet to confirm an exact release date.

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