David Tennant’s 'Des' — chilling early release pictures from the serial killer drama

David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen in "Des" on ITV.
David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen in "Des" on ITV. (Image credit: ITV)

David Tennant looks disturbingly like serial killer Dennis Nilsen in a string of pictures from his upcoming ITV drama Des.

The Doctor Who star has been made into the spitting image of Nilsen, who murdered boys and young men in his flat from 1978 to 1983.

Now, three-part drama Des, based on the book Killing for Company by Brian Masters, tells the story of how one of the UK’s most infamous serial killers was caught...

David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen

In this very first picture from Des David Tennant looks almost unrecognisable as Dennis Nilsen. The hugely popular actor is known for his beaming smile, but here he cuts an icy figure as Nilsen. Tennant appears to have had his hair cut short to play the killer and he also wears Nilsen’s familiar glasses. (Image credit: ITV)

David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen in ITV drama Des

David Tennant as Nilsen before his arrest. Des examines the case through the eyes of three men - Nilsen, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay and biographer Masters. (Image credit: ITV)

Daniel Mays as Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay in ITV's Des

Hunting a killer - Line of Duty star Daniel Mays plays Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay. Jay eventually caught Nilsen when he called at 23 Cranley Gardens in Muswell Hill, London on 9 February, 1983, to investigate human fragments of flesh and bone clogging the drains. (Image credit: ITV)

Jason Watkins as Brian Masters in ITV drama Des

The Crown actor Jason Watkins plays Brian Masters, whose book, Killing for Company, the series is based on. Masters wrote the book with Nilsen’s cooperation. Publishers Penguin describe it as 'resulting in a fascinating - and horrifying - portrait of the man who worshipped death'. (Image credit: ITV)

Nilsen (David Tennant) and Masters (Jason Watkins) talk in ITV's Des

Nilsen (Tennant) and Masters (Watkins) talk as Masters examines the mind of a mass murderer (Image credit: ITV)

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay (Daniel Mays) with Nilsen (David Tennant) in ITV's Des

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay finally has Nilsen (Tennant) in custody. He’s seen keeping a firm grip on the killer, who looks distant and forlorn. (Image credit: ITV)

Nilsen (David Tennant) on trial in ITV's Des

Nilsen (Tennant) on trial. He was convicted at the Old Bailey in London of six counts of murder and two of attempted murder. He was given life imprisonment, which was replaced by a whole life tariff in 1994. He died aged 72 in 2018. (Image credit: ITV)

Des, starring David Tennant, is on ITV this September.

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!