Viewers have been left gobsmacked by David Tennant’s Dennis Nilsen calmly admitting to murdering ’15 or 16, I think’ men in ITV’s chilling new three-part drama Des.
The programme, which aired this evening, follows the real-life story of one of the nation’s most notorious killers, Nilsen, also known as the Muswell Hill Murderer.
Nilsen, who died at the age of 74 in 2018 at HMP Full Sutton, 34 years into his life sentence, is believed to have killed as many as 15 gay men, most of them homeless, at his homes in Cricklewood and Muswell Hill, north London, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In tonight’s episode, the mild-mannered Job Centre worker, played by Broadchurch and Doctor Who star David Tennant, was charged with murder after his drains had been found to be blocked with human remains.
To the shock of viewers, Scottish-born Nilsen immediately confessed to as many as 15 murders – he couldn’t be quite sure – while sitting in the back of the police car, with one viewer commenting: #Des 15 or 16 I think!!! Picking jaw up off the floor! I’m on the edge of my seat already!’
Viewers were gobsmacked by David Tennant’s portayal of serial killer Dennis Nilsen when he calmly admitted to murdering ’15 or 16, I think’ men in ITV’s chilling new three-part drama Des
The programme, which aired this evening, follows the real-life story of one of the nation’s most notorious killers, Nilsen, also known as the Muswell Hill Murderer
Another shocked viewer said: ‘”One body or two?”, “Fifteen or sixteen”. Answered as if he’d been asked how many sugars he wanted in his tea.’
A third added: ‘How is he casually admitting. man said “a relief” #Des.’
At the start of the episode, Nilsen was cornered by police – including Detective Inspector Peter Jay (played by Line of Duty star Daniel Mays) – after human bones were discovered in the drain outside his home.
Despite initially questioning why the officers were interrogating him, Nilsen, who was a former police officer and trade unionist, soon confessed and even pointed the police in the direction of more bodies.
Viewers took to Twitter to share their shock to see Scottish-born Nilsen chillingly confess to killing ’15 or 16′ people within the first 15 minutes of the ITV series
When an officer asked: ‘So we talking about one body or two?,’ Nilsen replied: ’15 or 16, I think.’
The killer was taken to the nearby police station and quickly opened up about his crimes, saying: ‘Have you searched the rest of the flat yet?
‘You’ll find more in the chest in my bedroom and in the turn-up drawer in my bathroom, of all the remains of three people.’
He then gave Detective Inspector Jay the address for his former home, adding: ‘There you’ll find the remains of 12 or 13 people dating back to 1978.
In a chilling performance, Tennant explains to investigating police officers where the bodys of several men he murdered from 1978 into the early 80s could be found, explaining it was ‘a relief to get this off my chest’
‘It’s a relief to get this off my chest’, Nilsen admitted, before explaining that he doesn’t remember the names of his victims and that he would strangle them to death in his bed.
Nilsen’s lawyer soon interrupted him to question: ‘I have to ask, why did you do this?’
But to the disbelief of the officers in the room, Nilsen replied: ‘I don’t really know, I was rather hoping you could tell me that.’
The mild-mannered Job Centre worker, played by Broadchurch and Doctor Who star David Tennant, is charged with murder after his drains had been found to be blocked with human remains
During his killing spree, Nilsen would befriend his subjects in pubs and bars in London before luring them into his flat, where he would murder them and sit with their corpses before dismembering them.
His crimes were discovered when a drain outside his home on Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill, became blocked by human remains that he had tried to flush away.
Nilsen was jailed for life with a recommendation he serve a minimum of 25 years in 1983, on six counts of murder and two of attempted murder.
The sentence was later upgraded to a whole-life tariff.
Des, Monday-Wednesday, 9pm, ITV.
Who was the Muswell Hill Murderer?
Serial killer Dennis Nilsen, a mild-mannered Job centre worker, was arrested on suspicion of murder in 1983 after his drains were found to be blocked with human remains by a DynaRod worker.
After the arrest Nilsen, sometimes known as ‘the kindly killer’, immediately confessed to as many as 15 murders.
The murderer, who died in prison in 2018, is claimed to have cuddled the corpses of his victims.
The Scottish-born man was a former police officer and trade unionist and was described as intelligent and kind – which is how he lured his victims in.
In 1980s Britain, as unemployment spiralled, there were countless desperate young men living in poverty in London.
He would meet his potential victims in pubs around Soho and north London, introducing himself and saying:’Call me Des,’.
The serial killer would show them kindness before luring them back to his flat – first in Melrose Avenue, Cricklewood, and later in Cranley Gardens before strangling them and keeping them under the floorboards.
While pretending to be helpful to the police, he withheld details of the victims that could have helped their families get justice.
Nilsen had burned and boiled away the evidence but he is believed to have killed between 12 and 20 people – only eight have been identified.