Des: 'Nuanced' Dennis Nilsen drama impresses critics and viewers

Louisa Mellor Louisa Mellor

said the "nuanced" ITV series had been both "considered" and "responsible".

praised David Tennant's "skin-crawling" lead performance while expressing some reservations about the drama's "underwhelming" resolution.

Des also drew praise on Twitter, where one user called it "quite outstanding".

Other social media users were equally effusive, describing it as "just brilliant", "scarily good" and "really great telly",

Yet comedian David Baddiel was not alone in remarking how much smoking there had been in this 1980s-set recreation of Nilsen's arrest and trial.

"It was very good but I wondered if there was too much smoking in Des,"

. "I know it was 1983 but smoking-wise it felt more like 1972."

, saying she felt "as though I've passive smoked my way through a packet of cigarettes each night it's been on".

The show's director Lewis Arnold admitted there was "a lot" of smoking in his drama, revealing that actor Daniel Mays had been given an unofficial award during filming for "most cigarettes smoked onscreen".

Mays, who plays the dogged Detective Chief Inspector who sought to bring Nilsen to justice, said the accolade now had "

" on his mantelpiece.

Last year the subscription service Netflix

to cut back on how often smoking is shown in its original shows.

Taking its title from Nilsen's preferred nickname, Des depicts its subject's 1983 arrest following the discovery of human remains at his north London home.

Nilsen was subsequently convicted of six counts of murder and two of attempted murder, though it is believed he killed at least 15 young men in all.


Des has been a ratings winner for ITV, becoming the broadcaster's biggest drama launch of the year so far.

Monday's episode watched by an average audience of 5.4 million, which fell to 4.75million on Tuesday before rising to 5.22 million on Wednesday.

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