Doctor Who star David Tennant will play real-life serial killer Dennis Nilsen in the upcoming ITV drama series Des. A photo of Tennant in character as the sadistic psychopath has also been released, and he bears an unsettling resemblance to the notorious criminal. A three-part miniseries, Des is based on material from Brian Masters' true crime book Killing for Company.

The series is being developed by Luke Neal and Lewis Arnold, with Neal set to script the first two episodes with Kelly Jones writing the third. Neal, Arnold, and Tennant are also exec producing alongside Willow Grylls, Kim Varvell, Elaine Pyke, and Charlie Pattinson.


Starting with Nilsen's arrest, the miniseries will be told from the viewpoints of Nilsen, the police, and Brian Masters - the author of Nilsen's biography. Masters is also described as a central character of the series and he will be portrayed by The Crown star Jason Watkins. Also starring in Des will be Daniel Mays of Line Of Duty, as he'll be playing Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay. It appears that the primary focus of the show will be to get into the mind of one of the United Kingdom's most infamous serial killers of all time, exploring how someone who seemed to be so harmless was in actuality preying on young men.


Between the years of 1978 and 1983, Nilsen murdered at least 12 men in London. After luring unsuspecting victims into one of his two residences, Nilsen would typically murder them by strangulation, sometimes accompanied by drowning. The worst was yet to come after the killings for his victims, as Nilsen was also a necrophile who performed bizarre rituals with the bodies before mutilating them. Nilsen's penchant for flushing human remains would prove to be his undoing, as a plumber uncovered human flesh and bones when they clogged the pipes of Nilsen's apartment building. For his heinous crimes, the serial killer was sentenced to life imprisonment, ultimately dying behind bars at the age of 72 in 2018.


David Tennant is perhaps best known for starring on Doctor Who where he played the tenth incarnation of The Doctor from 2005 to 2010. Oddly enough, Tennant's successor, Matt Smith, also played a real-life notorious criminal by starring as Charles Manson in Charlie Says. Tennant has also starred as a police officer alongside Olivia Coleman on the ITV series Broadchurch, and does voiceover work on a variety of shows including the new DuckTales and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The role of Dennis Nilsen will be the darkest yet of Tennant's character, though his performance as the primary antagonist on the Netflix series Jessica Jones also featured Tennant as a particularly nefarious villain.


As of now, Des has not yet entered production, and its release date on ITV remains to be seen. Because we've gotten a good look at Tennant in character, however, production is likely to begin in the very near future. For true crime aficionados, it should definitely be a miniseries worth checking out, especially with a talented actor like Tennant in the lead role. This news comes to us from Deadline.

Des photo David Tennant is Dennis Nilsen