New Pictures’ three-part miniseries, Des, is based on the Brian Masters book Killing For Company, in which the author cooperated with Nilsen to get inside the mind of a man who murdered at least 15 men and boys between 1978 and 1983. Nilsen died in jail last year.
Joining Tennant is The Crown star Jason Watkins, who will play Masters, and Line Of Duty actor Daniel Mays, who features as Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay. The story charts Nilsen’s arrest and trial, through the prism of the three men.
Des was developed by Luke Neal and Lewis Arnold, with Neal writing the first two episodes and Kelly Jones penning the third. Willow Grylls, Kim Varvell, Charlie Pattinson, Elaine Pyke, Neal, Lewis Arnold and Tennant are the executive producers. ITV drama head Polly Hill commissioned the series, which will be distributed by All3Media International.
Additional cast include Ron Cook, Faye McKeever, Chanel Cresswell, Barry Ward, Tony Way, Bronagh Waugh, Laurie Kynaston, Ross Anderson, Ben Bailey Smith, Jay Simpson, Silas Carson, Stuart McQuarrie, Jamie Parker, Lex Shrapnel, Gerard Horan, Joel Morris, Jonathan Coy, Amy Booth-Steel, Ken Bones, Andrew Woodall and Amaka Okafor.
Executive producer Varvell said: “Dennis Nilsen’s crimes shocked the nation in the early 1980s. Our program focuses on the emotional impact of those terrible crimes, both on those who came into contact with Nilsen himself, and also on the victims’ families.”