Des 2020

ITV has announced details of a new true crime drama series.

Des will follow the arrest and trial of serial killer Dennis Nilsen in the early 1980s.

Based on Brian Masters’ book Killing for Company, the three-part mini-series will dramatise one of the most infamous cases in UK criminal history.

The story will be told through the prism of three men – Dennis Nilsen, played by David Tennant (Broadchurch), Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay, played by Daniel Mays (Line of Duty), and biographer Brian Masters, played by Jason Watkins (The Crown).

Des will explore the personal and professional consequences of coming into contact with a man like Nilsen.

Executive producer Kim Varvell commented: “Dennis Nilsen’s crimes shocked the nation in the early 1980s. 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.”

The official synopsis reads: “Nilsen murdered boys and young men in his flat from 1978 to 1983. He was undetected for five years, and it was only when DCI Peter Jay was called to 23 Cranley Gardens on 9 February, 1983, to investigate human fragments of flesh and bone clogging the drains, that the police realised they had a serial killer on their hands.

“Dennis Nilsen was arrested and convicted at the Old Bailey of six counts of murder and two of attempted murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, which was replaced by a whole life tariff in 1994. He died in May 2018.

“Told from both the police and Masters’ point of view, Des will explore how a man like Nilsen was able to prey on the young and vulnerable in 1980s Britain. The series will not only highlight the police investigation and trial but also the effect of the media coverage on public perceptions of the victims at the time, raising questions of just how far have we really come since then?”

Des will air on ITV in the UK in 2020.

The cast also includes 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.

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