Eric BlairSeptember 13th
2020

ITV's new true crime drama, Des, starring David Tennant will premiere tonight!

The eagerly-anticipated three-part series tells the story of Dennis Nilsen, one of Britain's most notorious murderers, who is believed to be responsible for the deaths of at least 12 young men and boys between 1978 and 1983.

Nilsen, who died in prison just over two years ago aged 72, was a serial killer and necrophile who was arrested by police on February 9th 1983 after complaints were made by him and other tenants about the drains at 23 Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill, London.

On investigating the issue, plumber, Michael Cattran, discovered that the drain was blocked by a ‘flesh-like’ substance as well as a number of bones, with Nilsen reportedly telling Cattran: “It looks to me like someone has been flushing down their Kentucky Fried Chicken."

Examination by police found them to be human remains, with evidence leading them to suspect Nilsen’s involvement. 

Initially the 37-year-old Scot feigned surprise, however eventually came clean, stating: “It’s a long story; it goes back a long time. I'll tell you everything. I want to get it off my chest.”

Following his arrest, Nilsen confessed to 15 murders - although he's only known for certain to have committed 12 - and was convicted on six counts of murder and two of attempted murder, with a recommendation he serve at least 25 years behind bars. His sentence was later increased to a whole-life tariff.

Alongside Tennant in the titular role, the drama also features Daniel Mays (Line of Duty, White Lines) as Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay, and Jason Watkins (The Crown) as Nilsen's biographer Brian Masters.

ITV's Head of Drama, Polly Hill, said: "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.”

Kim Varvell, Executive Producer for New Pictures, added: "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."

The first episode of 'Des' airs on ITV at 9pm on Monday September 14th.

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