First look at David Tennant in serial killer drama

The Doctor Who star transforms into real-life murderer Dennis Nilsen

David Tennant in Des on ITV

Just a day after the announcement that David Tennant would play a real-life serial killer in an upcoming ITV drama, a new image has been released showing him in character – and it’s a bit of a transformation for the Doctor Who and Broadchurch star.


Shaving off his beard and donning the specs of the infamous Dennis Nilsen, Tennant looks more like the real murderer he’s playing than ever – check them both out side by side below.

Dennis Nilsen and David Tennant in character as him (Getty, ITV)
Dennis Nilsen and David Tennant in character as him (Getty, ITV)

In three-part drama Des, viewers will follow the events of Nilsen’s arrest as police try to find some justice for his victims, while also examining the role of media coverage in the case and the effect his crimes had on those around him.

The series also stars Daniel Mays, Jason Watkins, Ron Cook, Faye McKeever, 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.

The series is written by Luke Neal after development by Neal and Lewis Arnold.

“Dennis Nilsen’s crimes shocked the nation in the early 1980s,” executive producer Kim Varvell said.

“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.”


You can read more about the drama and Nilsen’s crimes here.