Des: Series 1 (2020)


Series 1
Des

Critics Consensus

Des is a smartly scripted, sufficiently eerie true crime drama anchored by a chilling performance from David Tennant.

89%

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Critic Ratings: 18

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User Ratings: 0

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Episodes

On 9 February 1983, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay is called to the leafy North London address of 23 Cranley Gardens, where he discovers the drains clogged with rotting flesh and bones. But the extent of this grisly discovery only becomes apparent when the culprit returns from work. Dennis Nilsen, a meek man, freely admits to the police that it's not just one or two bodies but '15 or 16, I think'. How had they allowed this to happen under their noses for five years? S1 Ep1

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With limited resources, Jay and the police continue to dig into Nilsen's memories in an effort to identify and convict him for the murder of every one of his victims. But when Des suddenly withdraws his cooperation and stops talking to the police, Jay fears justice will be lost. Meanwhile, Des confides increasingly in Brian, which proves a unique obstacle for Jay, who has never had to deal with a criminal biographer before. S1 Ep2

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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. S1 Ep3

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Tv Season Info

News & Interviews for Des: Series 1

Critic Reviews for Des Series 1

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (8)

Incredible acting. Wonderful period detail... But, still. These things cannot disguise the fact that, in the end, Des was entirely gratuitous: just another entertainment, however careful or kind. It told us nothing new.

Sep 17, 2020 | Full Review…

[Des] is delivered in three tautly constructed, economical episodes about crime and punishment, the crime, as usual, being more engrossing than the punishment.

Oct 14, 2020 | Full Review…

David Tennant's performance as the titular psychopath, known as Des to his fellow civil servants, was richly detailed and impeccably controlled. Ultimately, however, the show's central strength was Luke Neal's agile screenplay.

Sep 22, 2020 | Full Review…
Top Critic

In short, it's a fascinating portrait of a terrible man.

Sep 19, 2020 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Des captures this unassuming real-life serial killer thanks to an excellent performance from David Tennant, but it focuses just as much on two men who helped bring Nilsen to justice.

Oct 14, 2020 | Full Review…

David Tennant's​ drift to the dark side reaches new heights with his latest, chilling performance.

Oct 13, 2020 | Full Review…

The portrayal of this man is a delicate balance of casual self-satisfaction and ironic distance and Tennant is unnerving.

Oct 9, 2020 | Full Review…

Difficult to watch and comprehend, the subject has been handled with care and tenderness while still remaining chilling to the bone.

Oct 6, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

It was hard to tell whether the show felt coy and airless because of Nilsen's almost comic deadpan psychopathy... or because the makers had tried to elevate a fundamentally grisly story to smooth and desirable middle-class television fodder.

Sep 22, 2020 | Full Review…

Could Des have done more to question the audience's own appetite for such a serial killer? Perhaps. However, when taken simply as an intelligent script complemented with an acting masterclass? Des is not to be missed.

Sep 22, 2020 | Full Review…

Well, and doesn't that awfully nice Mr Tennant take awfully nasty to a wholly new level of heartless indifference, almost an art form in itself?

Sep 22, 2020 | Full Review…

You might find yourself wanting to turn away but it's hard. Des casts a deadly spell.

Sep 17, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Des: Series 1

News & Features