When is David Tennant true crime drama Des on ITV?

Everything you need to know about the upcoming drama about serial killer Dennis Nilsen


David Tennant is one of the most ubiquitous faces on TV – and the Scottish actor is back for another new drama in 2020. 


ITV true crime drama Des focuses on real-life serial killer Dennis Nilsen. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming series…

When is Des on TV?

As things stand we don’t have an official start date for the show – but it looks like a late autumn date could be likely, so expect to see the show across three episodes towards the end of 2020. 

We’ll update this page as and when we get more detailed information.

What is Des about?

Dennis Nilsen

The series will tell the story of the arrest and trial of serial killer Dennis Nilsen, known as Des, through the prism of three different men – Nilsen himself, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay, and biographer Brian Masters.

ITV promises that the series will explore the personal and professional consequences of coming into contact with a man like Nilsen – who murdered several boys and young men in his flat from 1978 to 1983 and went undetected until police were called following reports of human fragments of flesh and bone clogging the drains.

The broadcaster says, “Des will explore how a man like Nilsen was able to prey on the young and vulnerable in 1980s Britain.  The series will not only highlight the police investigation and trial but also the effect of the media coverage on public perceptions of the victims at the time, raising questions of just how far have we really come since then.”

Who stars in Des?

David Tenant, who looks to have undergone something of a transformation for the show, leads the cast, playing Dennis Nilsen. Clean shaven and donning glasses – Tennant looks fairly chilling as the notorious killer. 

Tenant is joined by a wealth of highly regarded British actors, including Daniel Mays (Line of Duty), as DCI Peter Jay, Jason Watkins (The Crown, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies) as Brian Masters, in addition to Ron Cook (Mr Selfridge) and  Faye McKeever (Trollied).

The cast is rounded out by Chanel Cresswell, Barry Ward, Tony Way, Bronagh Waugh, Laurie Kynaston, Ross Anderson, Ben Bailey Smith, Jay Simpson, Silas Carson, Stuart McQuarrie, Jamie Parker, Lex Shrapnel, Gerard Horan, Joel Morris, Jonathan Coy, Amy Booth-Steel, Ken Bones, Andrew Woodall and Amaka Okafor.

Is there a trailer?

No trailer has been released so far,  but we’ll post one here as soon as it’s made available.


You can buy Brian Masters’ original biography on Dennis Nilsen, Killing for Company, on Amazon.