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What is the true story behind David Tennant drama Des?

Have you been watching the ITV true-crime drama? 

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Emmy Griffiths
Emmy GriffithsTV & Film Editor
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David Tennant is currently starring in ITV drama Des, which follows the arrest and trial of one of the UK's most notorious serial killers. In the three-part true-crime series, David will play Dennis Nilsen himself - but what is the true story behind the show? Find out here... 

READ: Des viewers are saying the same thing about new David Tennant show

The series will be based on the book Killing for Company by Brian Masters, focusing on the victims of Dennis, who is thought to have murdered up to 15 boys and young men in his flat from 1978 to 1983. He would lure them to his home with offers of food, alcohol or board before killing them.  

WATCH: David Tennant plays serial killer Dennis Nilsen in chilling new show

The serial killer alluded the police for years before he was eventually caught by DCI Peter Jay in 1983, and he was eventually convicted for six murders and two attempted murders. He was sentenced to life imprisonment before dying from a blood clot following a surgery complication in 2018 aged 72. 

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David will star as Dennis in Des

According to Laura Foreman's Serial Killers, Dennis feigned surprise when he was investigated after neighbours had complained of plumbing problems, in which human bones were discovered. According to the true-crime book, after being confronted he had said: "It's a long story; it goes back a long time. I'll tell you everything. I want to get it off my chest. Not here — at the police station." When he was asked if anyone else lived at his flat, he added: "Fifteen or sixteen, since 1978." 

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Daniel Mays plays DCI Peter Jay

After he was asked if he felt remorseful, he reportedly said: "I wished I could stop, but I couldn't. I had no other thrill or happiness."

READ: Des viewers share frustrations with David Tennant drama - find out why

Speaking about David playing the role of Dennis, ITV's Head of Drama Polly Hill said: "David Tennant is going to be brilliant as Dennis Nilsen and with Daniel Mays as Jay and Jason Watkins as Brian, this has an incredible cast to bring this story to screen and we are delighted to be making this with New Pictures for ITV." 

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