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David Tennant To Play British Serial Killer Dennis Nilsen In New ITV Drama

David Tennant To Play British Serial Killer Dennis Nilsen In New ITV Drama

The Scottish actor, who is most famous for his role as the Doctor, will play the warped murderer who killed young men in the 70s and 80s

Dominic Smithers

Dominic Smithers

David Tennant looks unrecognisable as he transforms into one of Britain's most notorious serial killers for a new mini-series.

The Scottish actor - who is best known for his role as the tenth Doctor in Doctor Who - will play murderer Dennis Nilsen in ITV's three-part drama Des set to air next year.

Nilsen, who died last year aged 72, was a serial killer and necrophile who is believed to have brutally murdered at least 12 young men and boys between 1978 and 1983.

He was sentenced to life in 1983 for six counts of murder and two of attempted murder, with a recommendation he serve at least 25 years behind bars.

Tennant looks uncannily like the Muswell Hill Murderer.

The series will revisit his murderous spree, with Tennant starring alongside Line of Duty actor Daniel Mays as Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay, and Jason Watkins as Brian Masters, who wrote a biography on Nilsen.

In the first images of how Tennant will look in the upcoming series, the 48-year-old bears a haunting resemblance to the man who became known as the Muswell Hill Murderer.

Speaking about the series, ITV's head of drama, Polly Hill, praised the cast. She said: "This starts with Nilsen's arrest and is looking at him through the eyes of the police officer trying to identify those he killed and deliver justice.

Nilsen was sentenced to life in prison.

"David Tennant is going to be brilliant as Nilsen and, with Daniel and Jason, this has an incredible cast."

Kim Varvell, Executive Producer for New Pictures, added: "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."

This isn't the first time Nilsen's crimes have been covered on television. In 1993, documentary Murder in Mind included extracts from an interview Nilsen had given at Albany Prison, the Isle of Wight.

In it, he spoke about how he struggled to deal with the smell of rotting bodies he had hidden beneath his floorboards.

Daniel Mays will star as Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay.

He said: "'In the end it was when there were two or three bodies under the floorboards that come summer it got hot and I knew there would be a smell problem.

"I knew I had to deal with the smell problem. I thought, 'what would cause the smell more than anything else? I came to the conclusion it was the innards, the softer parts of the body, the organs, things like that.

"On a weekend I pulled up the floorboards. I found it totally unpleasant. I got blinding drunk so I could face it.

"I started dissection on the kitchen floor. I would then go and be sick outside in the garden."

Filming has only just begun on Des with it expected to air next year.

Featured Image Credit: ITV

Topics: David Tennant, UK News, TV and Film, Interesting, crime, UK Entertainment, ITV, Murder