Entertainment

Des star Daniel Mays says Scots serial killer Nilsen gave him sleepless nights


Line of Duty star Daniel Mays has told how playing the policeman who nailed Scots serial killer Dennis Nilsen gave him sleepless nights.

Nilsen, who is portrayed by David Tennant in an ITV mini-series that starts tomorrow night, murdered at least 12 young men and boys during his sick killing spree.

Mays, 42, was so haunted by the storyline he even dreamed Nilsen tried to kill him.

A scene from upcoming mini-series Des starring David Tennant and Peter Mays

He said: “One night I had a terrible nightmare that I was somehow locked in an attic with Dennis Nilsen.

“My wife was waking me up, I was proper shaking.

“And then it happened again. I had two nightmares about it.

“God only knows what the police and the families of the 
victims were going through, because it certainly is a subject matter that really gets under your skin.

“And it is ­completely and utterly mind-boggling how on earth someone can actually do anything like that.”

Police issued picture of Serial killer Dennis Nilsen taken at the time of his arrest in 1983

Nilsen, who grew up in Aberdeenshire, committed his crimes at two addresses in north London between 1978 and 1983. He would lure his victims into his home before strangling or drowning them.

Twisted Nilsen would bathe and dress his victims, keeping their bodies for an extended period of time. He would later burn the bodies or flush the remains down the toilet.

READ  Sky drops huge discounts on bundles and TV add-ons for existing customers in January sale

His crimes were discovered in 1983, when residents of Cranley Gardens in Muswell Hill complained of drain and sewer blockages.

A plumber discovered the drains were packed with small bones and a flesh-like ­substance in a pipe leading to Nilsen’s flat.

When Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay, who Mays plays, arrived at the attic flat, he was met with the stench of rotting flesh.

He directly asked Nilsen where the remains of the body were, before being directed to a cupboard.

Nilsen was immediately arrested on suspicion of murder. He later confessed that there were other human remains in his flat and at his former address on Melrose Avenue.

In addition to Des, the three-part mini-series, a one-off documentary, The Real ‘Des’: The Dennis Nilsen Story, narrated by Tennant, will be aired on STV on Thursday.

Mays, who lives in north London with his make-up artist wife Louise Burton and their two children, said while the drama doesn’t depict the murders, 
Tennant’s uncanny portrayal of the sadistic serial killer made the ­experience unsettling.

He added: “Even in the read-through, he was channelling something eerie – and then when we saw him in costume, it was chilling.”

The cast playing the police let off steam by going to the pub at the end of a tough day’s filming. But Mays said: “David 
certainly kept himself well away from all of that, he kept himself private from the rest of us.

“I think that’s definitely what he needed and instinctively, as a group of actors playing the police, we knew that was the way he was going to approach it and we completely respected that.”

READ  Sheridan Smith sparks rumours she’s secretly married boyfriend Jamie Horn as they wear ‘wedding rings’ in Twitter pics

In order to research his role, Mays read Nilsen’s biography written by Brian Masters, who is played by Jason Watkins in the drama.

He also went for lunch with DCI Jay’s widow, Linda, and son, Simon.

Mays said: “It was such a lovely lunch. I really got closer to Peter after that and ­realised what a brilliant policeman he was.

“He was quite good at not bringing all that turmoil home to the family.

“I think with other cases he was able to switch off, but with the Nilsen thing, it plagued him because he left the force two years after the case.

“It left him somewhat bruised. He also probably thought he was never going to top that case, because it was such an infamous moment in history.

“They were very open and honest about how he was as a person. He sounded like a very decent individual – I got the sense after the lunch that I would have got on with him like a house on fire.”

David Tennant plays sick serial killer Dennis Nilsen

Fans have most recently seen Mays as ­loveable loafer DJ Marcus Ward in Netflix hit White Lies.

But his portrayal of DCI Jay is the latest in a line of police roles.

Raised in Essex by his electrician dad and bank cashier mum, Mays first found fame in Mike Leigh films All Or Nothing and Vera Drake.

He also starred in films Fisherman’s Friends and 1917, and received critical acclaim for his role as Sergeant Danny Waldron in Line of Duty.

READ  Winchester friends set up wheelchair dance class

Mays said: “I’ve played countless coppers now.

“When I saw the Des role I did think, ‘Oh God, it’s another copper’, but then you realise it’s the Dennis Nilsen story with Jason 
Watkins and David Tennant – and Lewis Arnold, who directed it – is phenomenal. It’s an amazing opportunity and an amazing thing to be part of.”





READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply