‘Des’ start date: When is David Tennant’s ’80s true crime drama on TV?

ITV has confirmed when new serial killer drama Des will air.

The three-part mini-series follows the arrest and trial of real-life serial killer Dennis Nilsen in the early 1980s.

Based on Brian Masters’ book Killing for Company, Des dramatises one of the most infamous cases in UK criminal history.

The cast is led by David Tennant (Broadchurch), alongside Daniel Mays (Line of Duty), Bronagh Waugh (The Fall), Pip Torrens (Poldark), and Jason Watkins (The Crown).

Des will air on ITV over three consecutive nights later this month in the UK.

Episode 1 airs at 9pm on Monday 14th September.

Episode 2 airs at 9pm on Tuesday 15th September.

Episode 3 airs at 9pm on Wednesday 16th September.

The series will then be followed by a one-hour documentary titled The Real ‘Des’: The Dennis Nilsen Story at 9pm on Thursday 17th September.

Watch the trailer:


The official synopsis reads: “Known as the ‘kindly killer’, Nilsen (David Tennant) was a local civil servant who spent five years murdering boys and young men he met on the streets of Soho 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 a total of 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: admitting outright to all fifteen murders in the police car outside his flat. But infuriatingly for the investigating detectives, he couldn’t remember any of 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 (Daniel Mays) 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 (Jason Watkins) 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 psychopathic killer? And, if we try, what price do we pay?”

A broadcaster for Des in the US hasn’t yet been announced.

Brian Masters’ book Killing for Company is available on Amazon.