David Tennant undergoes chilling transformation to play serial killer Dennis Nilsen in new series

Jacob Stolworthy
David Tennant will play Dennis Nilsen in new three-part ITV series: Anthony Harvey/REX

David Tennant has undergone a chilling transformation for his latest role.

The Scottish actor looks the spitting image of notorious killer Dennis Nilsen, whom he’s playing in a brand new ITV drama.

Nilsen, also Scottish, was a serial killer who is said to have confessed to killing 15 men in London between the years of 1978 and 1983.

Former Doctor Who star Tennant will play Nilsen in the three-part series, titled Des, which will follow his trial. He was imprisoned for life in 1983 and died in jail in 2018, aged 78.

David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen in ITV drama 'Des' (Robert Viglasky)

Jason Watkins, most recently seen as prime minister Harold Wilson in The Crown, will also star, alongside former Line of Duty actor Daniel Mays, who’ll play Detective Chief inspector Peter Jay.

Watkins will play mass murderer biographer Brian Masters in the series that’s been written by Luke Neal.

“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,” ITV head of drama Polly Hill said.

Nilsen targeted gay and homeless men and would make his victims drunk before killing them.

It was later revealed he would keep their bodies for long periods of time before attempting to flush their body parts down the drain.

His crimes were discovered after a resident in his apartment block summoned a plumber to investigate why the drains were blocked.

Des will air on ITV in 2020.

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