David Tennant's new true-crime drama Des premiered tonight (September 14) on ITV and it was a very grim watch.
The fact-based show stars Tennant as real-life serial killer Dennis 'Des' Nilsen, a man who confessed to murdering up to 16 men over the course of several years after being arrested in February 1983 in London.
The drama began with the police's discovery of Nilsen's latest victim and Nilsen's arrest. Nilsen soon told the police a range of details about his victims but was able to provide only one full name.
This left the police, including Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay (Daniel Mays), trying to identify the other victims – who had been killed over the course of five years – using minimal DNA evidence, as well as unravelling Nilsen's motivations for the murders.
Meanwhile, biographer Brian Masters (Jason Watkins) wanted to get all the information on the case "as a whole picture" for a book he wanted to write and found himself caught up in the awful details as he sat down to interview Nilsen.
Although it was an uncomfortable watch at times, viewers were full of praise for Tennant's creepy performance:
David Tennant is utterly brilliant, and utterly terrifying 😳#Des— Laura Grieve (@Laura51Grieve) September 14, 2020
My god how good was ep 1 of "Des" @DanielMays9 truly brilliant as the copper & David Tennant giving easily his greatest performance of his career & we still have 2 more episodes— Mark Bunn (@MarkyBunny) September 14, 2020
David Tennant isn't too bad at the old acting game, eh? Superb, as usual. #Des— Stuart Bissland (@SBissland) September 14, 2020
Might as well give David Tennant the BAFTA now then...— 🐝🍯Chi-Lay🍯🐝 (@SwalieC) September 14, 2020
Chilling performance. #Des
I don't think they could have found a better or more suitable actor to play Dennis Nilsen than David Tennant.— Fran (@sienamilan33) September 14, 2020
It's chilling just how good a portrayal he gives.
Great first episode with a brilliant cast all round. I cannot WAIT for part 2 tomorrow! #Des #BloodyBrilliant
Daniel Mays' acting was also admired as his character tried to unravel the details of the case and contend with all the pain it was causing, particularly poignantly shown in a scene in which he visited the parents of Nilsen's most recent victim:
David Tennant and Daniel Mays - what a combination #Des— Luke Hounsell MBE (@Hounse11) September 14, 2020
What harrowing but riveting TV #Des is. Daniel Mays outstanding - as he always is - while David Tennant is frighteningly brilliant. Recommended viewing, but with an element of caution too.— Paul Snowdon (@67Snowy) September 14, 2020
#Des another Daniel Mays masterclass. The man is too good.— tom clayton 😷 (@tomclaytonesque) September 14, 2020
Des continues tomorrow (September 15) at 9pm on ITV, with the final episode broadcast on Wednesday, September 16.
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