True crime drama Des is coming to ITV in September and ahead of the show’s premiere, a series of first-look images have been released.
David Tennant (Doctor Who) stars as the titular character. The cast also Daniel Mays (The Man In The Orange Shirt) and Jason Watkins (McDonald & Dodds).
Des is a true-crime drama focusing on one of the most infamous serial killers in UK history – Dennis Nilsen. Referred to as the ‘kindly killer’, Nilsen was a civil servant who spent five years murdering boys and young men he met on the streets of London from 1978 to 1983. He would meet and befriend these men before offering them food or lodgings for the evening back at his North London flat. His victims were often homeless or living off-grid, having slipped through the cracks of 1980s society and were therefore welcoming of this stranger’s apparent generosity. When he was finally caught on 9 February 1983, Nilsen had murdered as many as fifteen men over a period of five years, making him Britain’s most prolific serial killer of the time.
After his arrest, Nilsen was astonishing in his honesty: initially admitting outright to all fifteen murders in the police car outside his flat. But infuriatingly for the investigating detectives, he couldn’t remember his victims’ names. With no apparent motive, inconclusive forensic evidence and most of Nilsen’s victims living off-grid, the police started the biggest manhunt investigation in UK history. This time not for the murderer, but for the murdered.
The story is told through the prism of three isolated men – a detective, a biographer, and Nilsen himself. 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. Can we ever really understand the mind of a serial killer? And, if we try, what price do we pay?
Des is written by Luke Neal (episodes 1 and 2) and Kelly Jones (episode 3).
The series is Directed by Lewis Arnold, Produced by David Meanti and Executive Produced by Willow Grylls, Kim Varvell, Charlie Pattinson and Elaine Pyke for New Pictures, Polly Hill for ITV and Lewis Arnold, Luke Neal and David Tennant.