First look at David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen

First look at David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen

A first look at David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen in forthcoming ITV drama Des has been revealed.

The Doctor Who star, 48, will play the notorious convict who became known as the Muswell Hill Murderer.

The image shows a dead-eyed Tennant wearing Nilsen's recognisable glasses and blue shirt.

David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen
David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen (ITV/PA)

Written by Luke Neal, Des is based on the book Killing For Company by Brian Masters.

The story is told from the view of Nilsen, detective chief inspector Peter Jay played by Daniel Mays, and biographer Brian Masters played by Jason Watkins.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Nilsen carried out a murderous spree of near-unparalleled savagery.

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Dennis Nilsen
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Dennis Nilsen
BLACK AND WHITE ONLY File photo dated 04/11/83 of mass murderer Dennis Nilsen (right), with a prison warden at his side, after he was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years imprisonment after being convicted of six murders and two attempted murders at the Old Bailey. Infamous serial killer Nilsen spent his final day in prison lying in his cell suffering from internal bleeding, an inquest has heard.
BLACK AND WHITE ONLY File photo dated 18/02/83 of Dennis Nilsen (left) leaving Highgate Magistrates Court where he was remanded in custody, charged with the murder of Stephen Sinclair in London. Serial killer Dennis Nilsen has died in prison, the Ministry of Justice has said.
BLACK AND WHITE ONLY File photo dated 18/02/83 of Dennis Nilsen (right) leaving Highgate Magistrates Court where he was remanded in custody, charged with the murder of Stephen Sinclair in London. Serial killer Dennis Nilsen has died in prison, the Ministry of Justice has said.
PA NEWS PHOTO 15/11/83 THE SECOND FLOOR FLAT OF MASS MURDERER DENNIS ANDREW NILSEN WHO LIVED AT NO. 23 CRANLEY GARDENS, MUSWELL HILL, LONDON
PA NEWS PHOTO 15/11/83 THE SECOND FLOOR FLAT OF MASS MURDERER DENNIS ANDREW NILSEN WHO LIVED AT NO. 23 CRANLEY GARDENS, MUSWELL HILL, LONDON
PA NEWS PHOTO 15/11/83 ESTATE AGENT LEON ROBERTS IN THE SECOND FLOOR FLAT OF MASS MURDERER DENNIS ANDREW NILSEN WHO LIVED AT NO. 23 CRANLEY GARDENS, MUSWELL HILL, LONDON
AN ARRAY OF THE MUDERER DENNIS ANDREW NILSEN EXHIBITS ON DISPLAY AT THE OLD BAILEY COURT, LONDON. A TIE, ROPE, KNIVES AND A KNIFE SHARPENER AND A WOODEN BOARD ON WHICH HE DISSECTED REMAINS. NILSEN WAS SENTENCED TO A MINIMUM OF 25 YEARS IMPRISONMENT, CONVICTED OF SIX MURDERS AND TWO ATTEMPTED MURDERS.
PA NEWS PHOTO 25/10/83 DENNIS ANDREW NILSEN LEAVING HIGHGATE COURT, LONDON ACCUSED OF SIX MURDERS AND TWO ATTEMPTED MURDERS *25/10/01...Serial killer Nilsen, 45, was, seeking a High Court judge's permission to challenge a ban on him publishing his autobiography and other writings. Lawyers for Nilsen, who is serving life for murdering at least 12 men, were expected to argue that the governor at Whitemoor top security prison was unlawfully blocking publication in breach of his human rights. *20/10/03: Serial killer Dennis Nilsen accused Home Secretary David Blunkett and the prison authorities of unlawfully preventing him from working on and publishing his autobiography. His QC Alison Foster accused Mr Blunkett and the governor of Full Sutton Prison, near York, of breaching his human rights by refusing to return a copy of the partially-completed work.Nilsen, 57, admitted killing and butchering 15 young men, most of them homeless homosexuals, at his north London home. The former policeman was jailed for life in 1983, with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 25 years, on six counts of murder and two of attempted murder. 19/12/03: Dennis Nilsen who today lost his High Court battle for the right to continue working on and publishing his autobiography. 30/01/04: The Serial killer Dennis Nilsen was today refused permission to appeal against a recent court ruling which effectively denied him the right to continue working on and publishing his autobiography. His plea for a judicial review was rejected by Mr Justice Maurice Kay at the High Court in London last month. *05/05/04: Dennis Nilsen dated 25/10/83. Nilsen won permission to appeal against a ruling which denied him the right to continue working on his autobiography.
Chief Supt. Geoffrey Chambers in London where he attended the Old Bailey trial of Dennis Nilsen.
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He is believed to have killed as many as 15 young men, most of them homeless homosexuals, at his north London home.

He was jailed for life with a recommendation he serve a minimum of 25 years in 1983, on six counts of murder and two of attempted murder.

Nilsen died in 2018 behind bars at the age of 72.

ITV's head of drama Polly Hill said: "This drama starts with Nilsen's arrest and is looking at him through the eyes of the police officer trying to identify those he killed and deliver justice for them and the biographer he chose to tell his story.

"David Tennant is going to be brilliant as Dennis Nilsen and with Daniel Mays as Jay and Jason Watkins as Brian, this has an incredible cast to bring this story to screen and we are delighted to be making this with New Pictures for ITV."

Executive producer for New Pictures Kim Varvell said: "Dennis Nilsen's crimes shocked the nation in the early 1980s.

"Our programme focuses on the emotional impact of those terrible crimes, both on those who came into contact with Nilsen himself, and also on the victims' families.

"We're thrilled to be working with Luke and Lewis on this project, as well as the incredible cast."

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