David Tennant On Des "This Is A Dark Story, And One That Is Ready To Be Told"


David Tennant is the cover star for the latest issue of Radio Times which features an interview with him to promote his new true crime drama, Des.
The new three part drama, which David also executively produces, is based on Killing For Company, the biography of Nilsen written by Brian Masters which includes conversations with the killer who would go by the name of 'Des'. It begins on Monday 14th September at 9pm on ITV and will continue to air on the channel at the same time on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th.
Told through the prism of three men – Dennis Nilsen, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay played by Daniel Mays (Line of Duty, Temple) and biographer Brian Masters played by Jason Watkins (The Crown, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies) – the series will explore the personal and professional consequences of coming into contact with a man like Nilsen.
Talking to Radio Times David said "This is a dark story and a bleak story and an extraordinary story and one that I feel is ready to be told."

Des deliberately doesn't show any of Nilsen's crimes. Nilsen murdered boys and young men in his flat from 1978 to 1983. He was undetected for five years, and it was only when DCI Peter Jay was called to 23 Cranley Gardens on 9 February, 1983, to investigate human fragments of flesh and bone clogging the drains, that the police realised they had a serial killer on their hands.  

"What we didn't want to do is titilate or turn Des into a horror movie. That is not the kind of story we are trying to tell. What we are trying to do is find out who this creature was. Why he did what he did, in terms of what went on when he picked men up and took them back to his flat - the only real witness we have to any of that is Dennis Nilsen. But he's proved himself to be an unreliable narrator on many occassions. So the audience is taken in to the story by Peter Jay's character, you discover the horrors through his eyes."

Most of the drama in Des takes place in the police interview room. Fogged up with smoke from the constant cigarettes that Nilsen was lighting ( herbal for the purposes of the shoot).

"Whenever we talked to anyone who had been there, they talked about the chain smoking of endless cigarettes. But cigarettes where a way of getting Nilsen's favour so he would talk."

And Nilsen loved to talk. Long, drawn out and hard to listen to confessions of his heinous crimes. 
"I think in every moment he believed he was king of his own narrative and he would be the one to define what his own story was."

Told from both the police and Masters’ point of view, Des will explore how a man like Nilsen was able to prey on the young and vulnerable in 1980s Britain.  The series will not only highlight the police investigation and trial but also the effect of the media coverage on public perceptions of the victims at the time, raising questions of just how far have we really come since then?


The full interview with David is in Radio Times out now in both digital and print forms. 
Des starts on Monday 14th September at 9pm on ITV.



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