Press Centre

Des

  • Episode:

    3 of 3

  • Transmission (TX):

    Wed 16 Sep 2020

  • TX Confirmed

    Yes

  • Time

    9.00pm - 10.00pm

  • Week:

    Week 38 2020 : Sat 12 Sep - Fri 18 Sep

  • Channel:

    ITV

  • Published:

    Wed 02 Sep 2020

The information contained herein is embargoed from all Press, online, social media, non-commercial publication or syndication - in the public domain - until Tuesday 8 September 2020.

Des

Series overview

Des is a true-crime drama focusing on one of the most infamous criminal cases in UK history, Dennis Nilsen. Known as the ‘kindly killer’, Nilsen (David Tennant) was a local civil servant who spent five years murdering boys and young men he met on the streets of Soho from 1978 to 1983. He would meet and befriend these men before offering them food or lodgings for the evening back at his North London flat. His victims were often homeless or living off grid, having slipped through the cracks of 1980s society and were therefore welcoming of this stranger’s apparent generosity. When he was finally caught on 9 February 1983, Nilsen had murdered a total of fifteen men over a period of five years, making him Britain’s most prolific serial killer of the time. 

After his arrest, Nilsen was astonishing in his honesty: admitting outright to all fifteen murders in the police car outside his flat. But infuriatingly for the investigating detectives, he couldn’t remember any of his victims’ names. With no apparent motive, inconclusive forensic evidence and most of Nilsen’s victims living off-grid, the police started the biggest manhunt investigation in UK history. This time not for the murderer, but for the murdered.

The story is told through the prism of three isolated men - a detective, a biographer, and Nilsen himself. While Detective Peter Jay (Daniel Mays) and the police investigation’s attempt to get justice for as many victims as possible provides the narrative and emotional spine, the relationship between Nilsen and his biographer Brian Masters (Jason Watkins) allows us to delve into the mind of one of the most emotionally elusive serial killers the world has ever seen. Can we ever really understand the mind of a psychopathic killer? And, if we try, what price do we pay?
 
Des is written by Luke Neal and developed by Luke Neal and Lewis Arnold based on material from the book Killing for Company by Brian Masters. The series is Directed by Lewis Arnold, Produced by David Meanti and Executive Produced by Willow Grylls, Kim Varvell, Charlie Pattinson and Elaine Pyke for New Pictures, Polly Hill for ITV and Lewis Arnold, Luke Neal and David Tennant.

Episode 3

Reeling from Des’ change in plea, Jay and the police throw themselves into proving premeditation. If they can show the court that Des was undoubtedly of sound mind when he committed his crimes, he will go down and never be released. If they fail, Des could get a cushier sentence on diminished responsibility and effectively escape justice.

As the trial begins and the defence start to tear strips off key witnesses, Jay and his team are shocked by just how flimsy their case against Nilsen seems to be. Could this seemingly open-and-shut murder investigation really be close to collapsing? Meanwhile, Brian is forced to watch the trial unfold in front of him, anxiously wondering how much of an effect his ‘friendship’ with Nilsen may have had on this turn of events.

Cast

Dennis Nilsen - David Tennant 
DCI Peter Jay - Daniel Mays 
Jason Watkins - Brian Masters
Barry Ward - DI Steve McCusker
Ron Cook - DCS Geoff Chambers
Jay Simpson - DS Chris Healey
Ben Bailey Smith - DC Brian Lodge 
Bronagh Waugh - Charlotte Proctor 
Faye McKeever  - Linda Jay
Jamie Parker - Allan Green QC 
Pip Torrens - Ivan Lawrence QC 
Laurie Kynaston - Carl Stottor 
Ross Anderson - Douglas Stewart 
Chanel Cresswell - Lesley Mead 
Andrew Woodall - Professor Hardy 
Silas Carson - Russell Cavendish 
Oscar Garland - Juan
Tony Way - Mike Cattran