David Tennant transforms as real-life serial killer Dennis Nilsen in a new trailer for ITV drama ‘Des’.

Often labeled ‘The British Jeffrey Dahmer’, he murdered and dismembered at least 12 young men between 1978 and 1983.

The Scottish-born serial killer had a strict ritual after the killings. He would strip and bathe the victims, then dispose of them on a bonfire or flushing remains down the toilet. His crimes remained undetected until his neighbors complained about the blocked drains.

A plumber noticed a flesh-like blockage in the drains which included bones. Nilsen tried to explain: “It looks to me like someone has been flushing down their Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

When police inspected Nilsen’s home, the smell of rotting human flesh was overwhelming. Eventually, three bodies were discovered and following a search of his previous address – eight further bodies were uncovered.


This series will be told through the eyes of three men: detective Peter Jay (Daniel Mays) who arrested the serial killer at his North London flat, true crime biographer Brian Masters (Jason Watkins), and the serial killer himself.

Executive producer Kim Varvell said, “Dennis Nilsen’s crimes shocked the nation in the early 1980s. Our program focuses on the emotional impact of those terrible crimes, both on those who came into contact with Nilsen himself, and also on the victim’s families.”

Credit: ITV

ITV said, “While Detective Peter Jay and the police investigation’s attempt to get justice for as many victims as possible provides the narrative and emotional spine, the relationship between Nilsen and his biographer Brian Masters allows us to delve into the mind of one of the most emotionally elusive serial killers the world has ever seen.”

Adding, “Can we ever really understand the mind of a psychopathic serial killer? And, if we try, what price do we pay?”

‘Des’ will air Monday, September 14th on ITV.