A first look at David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen in forthcoming ITV drama Des has been revealed.

The Doctor Who star, 48, will play the notorious convict who became known as the Muswell Hill Murderer.

The image shows a dead-eyed Tennant wearing Nilsen’s recognisable glasses and blue shirt.

David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen
David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen (ITV/PA)

Written by Luke Neal, Des is based on the book Killing For Company by Brian Masters.

The story is told from the view of Nilsen, detective chief inspector Peter Jay played by Daniel Mays, and biographer Brian Masters played by Jason Watkins.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Nilsen carried out a murderous spree of near-unparalleled savagery.

He is believed to have killed as many as 15 young men, most of them homeless homosexuals, at his north London home.

He 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.

Dennis Nilsen
Dennis Nilsen after he was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years imprisonment (PA)

Nilsen died in 2018 behind bars at the age of 72.

ITV’s head of drama Polly Hill said: “This drama starts with Nilsen’s arrest and is looking at him through the eyes of the police officer trying to identify those he killed and deliver justice for them and the biographer he chose to tell his story.

“David Tennant is going to be brilliant as Dennis Nilsen and with Daniel Mays as Jay and Jason Watkins as Brian, this has an incredible cast to bring this story to screen and we are delighted to be making this with New Pictures for ITV.”

Executive producer for New Pictures Kim Varvell said: “Dennis Nilsen’s crimes shocked the nation in the early 1980s.

“Our programme focuses on the emotional impact of those terrible crimes, both on those who came into contact with Nilsen himself, and also on the victims’ families.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Luke and Lewis on this project, as well as the incredible cast.”