David Tennant 'relieved' Dennis Nilsen will not get to see Des
- Bang Showbiz
- 3 September 2020
'Des' star David Tennant is glad that serial killer Dennis Nilsen is not alive to see the ITV drama about his crimes and arrest
David Tennant is "relieved" that serial killer Dennis Nilsen will not get to see the series 'Des' as he would have revelled in his crimes being depicted on television.
The 49-year-old actor plays the real life murderer in the chilling new ITV drama 'Des' – titled after the nickname Nilsen was also known as – which begins with the arrest of one of Britain's most notorious murderers after he killed at least 12 young men between 1978 and 1983 in north London by plying them with booze and then luring them back to his flat where he would strangle them and then cut up the bodies and keep some remains.
After researching the life of the killer for his role, Tennant became aware that Nilsen was obsessed with the "legend" of his murders whilst behind bars so he is grateful that he won't get to relish in his story being told following his death in 2018 at the age of 72.
The former 'Doctor Who' star said: "One of the things Nilsen became obsessed with was the legend of Des," says the actor.
"Whenever he slipped out of public consciousness, there was almost a sense he wanted to get back into it. That's why I'm very relieved he's not alive.
"I would hate for this to go out and him be sitting in a cell imagining we were in any way glorifying him.
"I'm sure he would have complained about everything we said and did, but at the same time would have been rather smugly pleased he was on television, so I think it's right and proper this is transmitting after he's gone."
Years before being cast as Nilsen, Tennant had read the biography, 'Killing For Company', and had lived near the scene of his later murders, Cranley Gardens in north London, and after being cast he watched interview footage of the killer so he could study his voice and mannerisms.
The 'Broadchurch' star admits Nilsen – whose homosexuality was disapproved of by his family – conjured up images of a "bogeyman" when he was a child but after researching him he still is unsure as to why he committed his horrific crimes.
Tennant said: "I was 12 when he was arrested so it was a name I was aware of. I knew he was a bogeyman from the 1980s."
Discussing why Nilsen carried out his heinous acts, he added: "I don't think Dennis always knew. I think there were often two things going on at once – moments of blind rage with no pre-meditation and also elements of preparation.
"He went to great lengths to get ready for luring people back to his flat with the intention they might never leave. We'll never know for certain."
The drama also stars Daniel Mays as DCI Peter Jay – the police office who investigated Nilsen – and Jason Watkins as biographer Brian Masters, who penned 'Killing For Company' after several meetings with the murderer.
Des will air on ITV on September 14 at 9pm.