This is when new Dennis Nilsen drama featuring Sheffield man's murder will air on TV

A new drama about serial killer Dennis Nilsen and featuring the story of the brutal murder of a Sheffield man will come to TV screens next week.

Monday, 7th September 2020, 4:41 pm

David Tennant will appear in the highly-anticipated ITV drama Des as the vile murderer when the show starts airing on ITV from September 14.

The series focuses on Nilsen who murdered at least 15 men in London between 1978 and 1983.

Among his victims was Sheffield man Malcolm Barlow who was just 24 when he was strangled, chopped up and burnt by Nilsen who died in prison in 2018 while serving a life sentence for his sick crimes.

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Dennis Nilsen murdered 15 young men, with Sheffield's Malcolm Barlow among his victims.

Nilsen, who was 72 when he died, butchered and even cooked some of his victims during his twisted five-year killing spree.

And among his victims was Barlow, an orphan with mental problems who had become a drifter in London when he encountered Nilsen in September 1981.

Born in Sheffield in 1957, Barlow, who suffered from mental problems and was a pathological liar, was killed on September 18 of that year after Nilsen found him loitering outside his home at 195 Melrose Avenue in London.

When his mother died at the age of 11, Barlow was looked after by his sister - but she found him unmanageable and he would steal and occasionally sleep with men then try to blackmail them.

Nilsen had already killed a number of other young men at the house and after commiting sex acts with the corpses, stuffed the bodies under his floorboards before digging them up, dissecting them and disposing of the remains in a series of bonfires in his garden.

After finding Barlow complaining of feeling unwell from epilepsy, Nilsen took him home and called him an ambulance which took him to hospital.

When Barlow was released, he came back and sat on Nilsen’s doorstep to await his return from work.

Nilsen invited him in and the pair drank rum together before Barlow fell into a deep sleep.

But Nilsen found his presence a nuisance - and so strangled him.

The next day, he stuffed Barlow in the cabinet under the kitchen sink - along with a number of other bodies which also littered the house.

Barlow was the last victim to die in Melrose Avenue - but Nilsen continued his killing spree at his new address, an attic flat in Cranley Gardens.

But before his move, Nilsen had the gruesome task of disposing of the bodies - and after digging up his victims from beneath his flooboards, he chopped them up on the kitchen floor before burning them in a huge blaze - using old tyres to cover the smell of burning flesh.

Born in Scotland in 1945, Nilsen's killing spree finally came to an end in February 1983 when a Dyno Rod employee discovered human flesh in a drain at the house after being called in to investigate a blockage.

Police were called in and Nilsen was eventually convicted on six counts of murder and two of attempted murder at the Old Bailey - although he killed at least 15 young men.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment on 4 November 1983, with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 25 years. In his later years, he was incarcerated at Full Sutton maximum security prison after receiving a whole life tariff and died there in May 2018.

The new drama features former Doctor Who star David Tennant as the serial killer with the drama based on the seminal British true-crime book Killing for Company by Brian Masters – ­which will not only tell Nilsen’s story, but also delve into the police investigation and his trial’s media coverage.

The series will tell the story of the arrest and trial of Nilsen, known as Des, through the prism of three different men – Nilsen himself, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay, and biographer Brian Masters.

ITV said: “Des will explore how a man like Nilsen was able to prey on the young and vulnerable in 1980s Britain. The series will not only highlight the police investigation and trial but also the effect of the media coverage on public perceptions of the victims at the time, raising questions of just how far have we really come since then.”