The first look at David Tennant in Des has been revealed today, with the crime drama bringing us the true story of Scottish serial killer and necrophiliac Dennis Nilsen, who murdered at least twelve teenage boys and young men over a five year period in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
The image of Tennant as the murder is a duplication of Nilsen’s appearance when he was arrested in 1983, the drab and unassuming look a part of how he escaped notice, coupled with his claims that the murders he committed, each in his own home, were spontaneous and without premeditation.
Most of his victims died by either strangulation or being drowned in a bathtub after passing out from the asphyxiation, and his actions were only uncovered after a plumber was called to examine the pipes in his apartment building and found them clogged by flesh, hair and teeth from Nilsen disposing of the bodies by flushing the pieces of their dismembered corpses down the toilet.
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Although Tennant’s best known as the romantic hero Tenth Doctor of Doctor Who, he has a great deal of experience playing villains. Most memorable was in the first season of Jessica Jones as mind-controlling sociopath Killgrave, as well as in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, playing the small role of Barty Crouch Jr. with relish and contempt right before his stint in the TARDIS catapulted him to stardom. Of course, there’s also Bad Samaritan, playing a sadistic murderer who begins destroying the life of a thief who breaks into his home and discovers his secret. Beyond that, he’s also played villains in voice roles as an odious interpretation of famed naturalist Charles Darwin in stop-motion comedy The Pirates! Band of Misfits and the megalomaniacal Lord Commander in sci-fi animated series Final Space.
As Nilsen was a real-life killer, Tennant’s performance as him will be far less histrionic than any of the above mentioned characters, but the everyday banality of his existence that Des will likely explore will make his story all the more chilling to see brought to life.