Des writer says it was a 'very difficult balance' to expose Dennis Nilsen's crimes without upsetting victims' families

DES writer Luke Nealhas admitted it was a 'very difficult balance' to expose Dennis Nilsen's sick crimes without upsetting his victims' families.

The new ITV drama sees David Tennant play the notorious serial killer, who murdered more than a dozen men at his London home from 1978 until 1983.

Dennis would befriend the men and offer them food or lodgings, before strangling or drowning them and then carrying out despicable acts with the corpses and then eventually dismembering them to dispose of, either by burning them on a bonfire or flushing bits down the toilet.

The nature of his sick crimes means Luke had to handle the script and storytelling with care so as not to bring any further distress to the families of the murdered men.

Speaking at a Q&A with The Sun Online and other media, Luke explained: "It was a very difficult balance and we approached everybody before we started filming. You don't want to intrude on people.

"We did speak to some of the victims' families and for those who didn't, we respected their privacy."

He continued: "Trying to explain our editorial intention for the drama, but understanding that this is incredibly raw for some people. It is about approaching people with empathy and sensitivity."

Along with director Lewis Arnold, Luke and the team made a conscious decision not to depict the murders on screen.

Luke said: "I think very early on we knew that we didn’t want to show any of the crimes because in our view those poor men that went home with Dennis Nilsen.

"The only thing they did was go home with someone they might from the pub that night. They didn’t need to be shown on a TV drama.

"We wanted to tell another story, which is the human cost of Dennis Nilsen.

"What comes after he is caught and the people that have to investigate in individual ways to get answers for the five years."

Des also stars Daniel Mays as DCI Peter Jay, the detective tasked with getting justice for Dennis' victims, and Jason Watkins as Brian Masters, who became the killer's biographer.

Des begins on Monday, September 14 at 9pm on ITV.

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