New images of David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen

Des is a three part true crime drama coming to ITV next month following the arrest and trailer of serial killer Dennis Nilsen. Nilsen killed up 15 young men from 1978 to 1983.

David Tennant starts as Nilsen, Daniel Mays as Detective Peter Jay and Jason Watkins as Brian Masters.

Image 1 is David as Nilsen outside Cranley Gardens.

Image 2 is Nilsen’s first meeting with Brian Masters (Jason Watkins) who will meet Nilsen over many years to create the biography ‘Killing for Company’ which the drama is based on.

DES is a true-crime drama focusing on one of the most infamous serial killers in UK history – DENNIS NILSEN. Referred to as the ‘kindly killer’, Nilsen was a civil servant who spent five years murdering boys and young men he met on the streets of London from 1978 to 1983. He 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 fifteen men over a period of five years, making him Britain’s most prolific serial killer of the time.

Image 3 is a recreation of the infamous shots of Nilsen being lead out of Hornsey Police Station after admitting murder.

Image 4 is Jason Watkins as Brian Masters.

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 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 allows us to delve into the mind of one of the most emotionally elusive serial killers the world has ever seen. Can we ever really understand the mind of a serial killer? And, if we try, what price do we pay?

Image 5 is Daniel Mays as Detective Peter Jay meeting the press to appeal to the public to come to the police if they have any information on Nilsen.

Image 6 is Nilsen on trial for murder.

DES is written by Luke Neal (episodes 1 and 2) and Kelly Jones (episode 3). The series is Directed by Lewis Arnold, Produced by David Meanti and Executive Produced by Willow Grylls, Kim Varvell, Charlie Pattinson and Elaine Pyke for New Pictures, Polly Hill for ITV and Lewis Arnold, Luke Neal and David Tennant.


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