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Des marks ITV's biggest drama launch in 14 years with 10 million viewers

The true-crime series about serial killer Dennis Nilsen has overtaken Quiz as the biggest ITV drama launch this year.

David Tennant in Des (ITV)
Published: Wednesday, 23rd September 2020 at 4:06 pm

Over 10 million viewers tuned in last week to watch ITV's miniseries Des, a drama about serial killer Dennis Nilsen.


The three-part series, starring David Tennant as the prolific murderer, has been watched by 10.9 million since last Monday, which includes viewing figures for the original broadcasts, repeat viewings and catch up on ITV Hub and non-TV devices.

Last week, ITV announced that Des had overtaken 'Coughing Major' series Quiz – which attracted an audience of over 5.3 million viewers – to become the broadcaster's biggest drama launch of the year after 5.4 million viewers watched the first episode last Monday,

The channel has now revealed that the Dennis Nilsen series has become the most-watched drama launch on the channel since Wild at Heart in 2006, while the series has also beaten the record for ITV Hub's biggest drama audience with over 1.7 million viewers streaming the series on catch-up and has become one of the most-watched shows on the platform.

Based on Brian Masters' biography of Nilsen, Killing for Company, Des focuses on the 1983 arrest of Dennis Nilsen, who killed at least 12 men in London in 70's and 80's, and the police's efforts to identify his victims to ensure Nilsen went down for his crimes.

Tennant, who received critical praise for his unsettling portrayal of the serial killer, acted opposite Daniel Mays as Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay and Jason Watkins, who played author Brian Masters.

Des aired from Monday 14th September until Wednesday 16th, with an accompanying documentary – The Real Des: The Dennis Nilsen Story – following the drama on the Thursday. The documentary ranked in fifth place amongst the top 10 shows on catch up, and has been watched by 4.3 million people.

According to ITV, the broadcaster has produced three of the top five most-watched drama launches this year, which includes Des, Quiz and the channel's reboot of Van der Valk (5.2 million viewers) starring Marc Warren as Piet Van der Valk.


Des is available to watch on ITV Hub. You can order Killing for Company on Amazon. Find out what else to watch with our TV Guide.


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