David Tennant Serial Killer Drama 'Des" to Stream on Sundance Now

David Tennant rocking serial killer nightmare hair in "Des" (Photo: ITV)

We've seen actor David Tennant in a lot of different kinds of roles over the years. From the Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who or DI Alec Hardy on Broadchurch to the demon Crowley on Good Omens, he's played almost every conceivable kind of character, including a Marvel villain (Jessica Jones), an abusive husband (Deadwater Fell) and himself (Staged). Next, he'll play an infamous Scottish serial killer in upcoming three-part drama Des - and the series will stream in America on premium cable service Sundance Now

The series will follow one the grisly story of Dennis Nilsen, who killed at least 12 boys and young men in his flat from 1978 to 1983. But because Nielsen went undetected for so long, and because he primarily targeted homeless people, runaways, and those who had otherwise slipped through the grid of larger British society, that number is uncertain and is likely to be at least 15. Nilsen was only discovered after a local officer was summoned to investigate human fragments of flesh and bone clogging the drains in the building in which he lived.

Des is based on the book Killing for Company, which attempts to get inside the mind of the killer and document his unraveling from his arrest to his trial. In the book, the story is told from three different perspectives - including Nilsen himself, biographer Brian Masters, who wrote the book, and Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay, the officer who discovered the human remains in Nilsen's building. The Crown star Jason Watkins plays Masters, and Line of Duty actor Daniel Mays plays Jay. 

According to the press release announcing the show, it will explore the personal and professional consequences of coming into contact with a man like Nilsen, as well as "the emotional impact of those terrible crimes" on the victim's families. The promotional materials don't exactly go into details on how exactly that will happen, but it seems likely that this series will be structured in a way that's similar to another recent serial killer drama, Rillington Place, which told its story by focusing each of its three episodes on a different character (murderer John Christie, his wife Ethel and his most famous victim, Timothy Evans. (That's a total guess, by the way, but it would make sense to me.)

Des doesn't have an airdate yet but is slated to broadcast on U.K. network ITV later this year. It will premiere on Sundance Now sometime soon thereafter. The streaming service has already proven to be a home for niche prestige dramas - new Laura Carmichael thriller The Secrets She Keeps will debut this month and its archives feature other popular series like The Cry and The War of the Worlds. 

Will you give Tennant's creepy new leading role a look when it arrives in the U.S.? Let's discuss in the comments. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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