First look at David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen, and people can't cope with the chilling likeness

Katie Archer

David Tennant has been transformed into serial killer Dennis Nilsen for a new drama series, and fans of the actor are finding the likeness uncanny.

The forthcoming ITV drama Des tells the story of Nilsen, one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers, with the former Doctor in the lead role.

ITV’s three-parter may only just be at the commissioning stage so far, but Broadchurch star Tennant has already been trying out his Nilsen look – and the results are spine-chilling.

Civil Servant Dennis Nilsen, right, charged with murdering fifteen men, arrives at Highgate Magistrates Court.

A photo released alongside the casting announcement shows the actor in a large pair of glasses and a blue shirt with his hair swept into a side parting, which would all be normal enough if it weren’t for his strong resemblance to the murderer.

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People took to Twitter to express how uncomfortable the shot made them feel.

However, not everyone thought the biggest likeness was between Tennant and Nilsen...

Nilsen murdered young men and boys at his London flat between 1978 and 1983, but went undetected for five years until DCI Peter Jay was called to 23 Cranley Gardens on 9 February, 1983, to investigate reports of fragments of human flesh and bones clogging the drains.

Detectives then realised they had a serial killer on their hands, and Nilsen went on to be convicted of six counts of murder and two of attempted murder at the Old Bailey.

David Tennant as Nilsen. (ITV)

He was sentenced to life in prison, which was replaced by a whole life tariff in 1994. He died in May 2018.

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The story is told through three men – DCI Jay, biographer Brian Masters, and Nilsen himself.

David Tennant attends the premiere of Amazon Prime Video's "Good Omens" at the Whitby Hotel on Thursday, May 23, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

Joining Tennant at the head of the cast are Line of Duty star Daniel Mays as DCI Jay and The Crown’s Jason Watkins as Masters, who will represent the personal and professional consequences of coming into contact with a man like Nilsen.

Des is expected to air on ITV in 2020.