Ofcom rejects complaints from viewers of ITV serial killer drama Des

Ofcom rejects complaints from viewers of ITV serial killer drama Des including that it glorified real-life murderer Dennis Nilsen

  • Three-part ITV drama starring David Tennant prompted 14 complaints to Ofcom
  • People complained about ‘excessive’ chain-smoking and ‘distressing content’
  • Others claimed the programme glorified the actions of killer Dennis Nielsen 
  • Nilsen, originally from Aberdeenshire, jailed at the Old Bailey, London, in 1983 after being convicted of six charges of murder and two of attempted murder

TV watchdog Ofcom has rejected complaints from viewers over ITV’s serial killer drama Des – including one who complained it glorified the actions of murderer Dennis Nilsen.

The three-part ITV show starring David Tennant as the jailed serial killer prompted 14 people to complain to the broadcasting regulator.

Five complained about ‘excessive’ chain-smoking in the show, two said that the content was distressing.

One viewer complained that the programme, which documented Nilsen during his arrest and subsequent trial for the brutal murders of 15 young men, glorified the killer. 

A further six viewers complained it was insensitive of the continuity announcer to read out a helpline number for people who may have been affected by the issues raised in the programme – and signpost upcoming programmes – as the names of the victims were being displayed on screen.

The three-part ITV show starring David Tennant as the jailed serial killer prompted 14 people to complain to the broadcasting regulator

Ofcom assessed the complaints after the critically acclaimed mini-series was aired last month.

However, they have now concluded they do not merit further investigation.

Nilsen, originally from Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, was jailed at the Old Bailey in 1983 after being convicted of six charges of murder and two of attempted murder.

He claimed to have killed 15 men and boys, whom he had befriended in pubs before luring them to homes in north London, where he would kill them and dismember their corpses. Most of the men were homeless. 

His crimes were discovered when a drain outside his home on Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill, became blocked by human remains that he had tried to flush away.

Dennis, known as Des, 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.

The sentence was later upgraded to a whole-life tariff.

Dennis, known as Des, 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.

He died aged 72 in 2018 while serving the whole life sentence.

Des is the most popular drama ever on the STV Player after it was streamed online more than 1.2million times.

It gave ITV it’s biggest drama launch of the year, after an average of 5.4 million viewers tuned in to watch 

An Ofcom spokeswoman: ‘We received 14 complaints about this post-watershed drama, but after careful assessment, we concluded that content did not raise issues warranting investigation under our broadcasting rules.’

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