Des (TV series)

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Des title card.svg
GenreCrime drama
Based onKilling for Company by Brian Masters[1]
Written byLuke Neal (episodes 1, 2)
Kelly Jones (episode 3)[1]
Directed byLewis Arnold
Theme music composerSarah Warne
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes3
ProducerDavid Meanti
EditorSacha Szwarc
Production company
  • New Pictures
Original networkITV
Picture format2:1 1080i
Audio formatSurround sound 5.1
Original release14 September (2020-09-14) –
16 September 2020 (2020-09-16)

Des is a British three-part television drama miniseries,[2] based on the 1983 arrest of Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen,[3] after the discovery of human remains causing the blockage of a drain near his home.[1] The series premiered on 14 September 2020.[4]



No.EpisodeDirected by [1]Written by [1]Original air date [4]UK viewers
1Episode 1Lewis ArnoldLuke Neal14 September 2020 (2020-09-14)11.95
2Episode 2Lewis ArnoldLuke Neal15 September 2020 (2020-09-15)10.70
3Episode 3Lewis ArnoldKelly Jones16 September 2020 (2020-09-16)10.93


In November 2019, production began on Des,[1] starring David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen.[5]

The drama is the ninth in a sequence of ITV miniseries featuring notorious British murder cases of the past two centuries, following on from This Is Personal: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper (2000), Shipman (2002), A Is for Acid (2002), The Brides in the Bath (2003), See No Evil: The Moors Murders (2006), Appropriate Adult (2011), Dark Angel (2016), In Plain Sight (2016). The next in the sequence is The Pembrokeshire Murders (2021).



The premiere episode was watched live by 5.4 million viewers on ITV, a benchmark previously hit in 2019 with Cleaning Up. The peak was 5.9 and nearly a third of all viewers were watching it at the time of its airing.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

The series was well received by critics and described as a "sensitive, finely worked drama showing the unrelentingly bleak reality of the monstrous narcissist".[7] Tennant's performance was considered "one of his best in an impeccable career".[8]

Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 89%. The website's critics consensus reads, "Des is a smartly scripted, sufficiently eerie true crime drama anchored by a chilling performance from David Tennant."[9]


In 2021, David Tennant won the International Emmy Award for Best Actor, at the 49th International Emmy Awards, for his role in the show.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "ITV commissions three part drama, Des - with David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen". ITV Press Center. 22 November 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  2. ^ "David Tennant says TV drama Des 'does not celebrate' killer Dennis Nilsen". BBC News. 13 September 2020. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  3. ^ "David Tennant stars as Dennis Nilson in gripping first-look trailer for ITV drama Des". Radio Times. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  4. ^ a b Cremona, Patrick (11 September 2020). "When is Des on ITV? When David Tennant's true crime drama starts". Radio Times. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  5. ^ Wilson, Benji (28 August 2020). "How David Tennant transformed himself into serial killer Dennis Nilsen". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  6. ^ Warner, Sam (15 September 2020). "David Tennant's Des has broken a ratings record for ITV". Digital Spy. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  7. ^ Mangan, Lucy (14 September 2020). "Des review – David Tennant excels as a perfectly ordinary serial killer". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  8. ^ Ling, Thomas (14 September 2020). "Des review: David Tennant is superb in ITV series with killer flaw". Radio Times. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  9. ^ "Des". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 January 2021.

External links[edit]