David Tennant Serial Killer Drama Des Premieres September 14th

by : Lucy Connolly on : 03 Sep 2020 08:14
David Tennant Serial Killer Drama Des Premieres September 14thITV/Full Sutton Prison/Wikipedia

ITV has finally confirmed the release date for its true crime drama Des, starring David Tennant.

The three-part series, which sees Tennant taking on the role of infamous serial killer Dennis Nilsen, will premiere on Monday September 14 at 9pm and will air nightly until Wednesday September 16.


Tennant, 49, has undergone a remarkable transformation to play the necrophile – who is believed to have brutally murdered at least 12 young men and boys between 1978 and 1983 – with promo pictures for the series unveiling an eerie resemblance.

You can watch the trailer below:

Over a period of four years, Nilsen killed his victims by luring them back to his homes in Melrose Avenue and Cranley Gardens in Muswell Hill, North London, with the promise of alcohol, food or a place to spend the night.


Once he had lured his victims to one of the apartments, Nilsen would strangle them to death – or on one occasion to unconsciousness before drowning them in the bath – and then perform various sexual acts on their corpses.

The serial killer would often spend the night sleeping next to the dead bodies before placing them under his floorboards, occasionally removing them and engaging in conversation with them as though they were alive.

David Tennant To Play Necrophiliac Serial Killer Dennis Nilsen In New DramaFull Sutton Prison/Wikipedia

Keeping the bodies under his floorboards for days or even months, Nilsen would gradually dismember them, flushing parts down the toilet and burying organs outside. He sometimes even boiled the heads, feet and hands.


His crimes were uncovered when a plumber found human remains in an outdoor drain of his apartment building, after which the police were called in to investigate.

Upon entering Nilsen’s apartment and noticing the foul smell, the killer calmly confessed that he had dismembered body parts stored in bags around the apartment. These included two dismembered heads and other larger body parts.

David Tennant To Play Necrophiliac Serial Killer Dennis Nilsen In New DramaITV

Nilsen was jailed for life in November 1983 after being convicted on six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. He died in 2018 at the age of 72 from a pulmonary embolism and retroperitoneal haemorrhage, linked to a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.


The ITV drama is said to start just as Nilsen is arrested, focusing on the investigation and exploring what drove him to kill and what allowed him to get away with it for so long. The series also shines a light on the victims, which is why Tennant wanted to do the role justice.

‘It’s tricky to get the balance right,’ the actor said, as per The Sun. ‘You don’t want to slip into sensationalism. I might have had ­reservations if we were presenting it as some sort of gothic horror piece. But we weren’t.’

Starring alongside Tennant in the three-part series are Line of Duty’s Daniel Mays as Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay and The Crown’s Jason Watkins as Nilsen’s biographer Brian Masters.


Des will premiere on ITV on September 14 at 9pm.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Film and TV, David Tennant, True crime, TV


ITV/YouTube and 2 others
  1. ITV/YouTube

    Des | This September | ITV

  2. ITV Press Centre/Twitter


  3. The Sun

    'BOGEYMAN' David Tennant says he’s glad serial killer Dennis Nilsen isn’t around to see ITV drama Des as it would make him smug