David Tennant divides opinion with his Aberdeenshire accent in Des

David Tennant divides opinion with his Aberdonian accent in Des – as critics claim it sounds more ‘Glaswegian’ but others insist it’s ‘spot on’

  • David Tennant has divided opinion online with Aberdonian accent in ITV’s Des
  • Scottish actor grew up near Glasgow, but used Doric dialect for his performance
  • Born in Aberdeenshire, Dennis Nilsen is one of Britain’s most notorious killers

David Tennant has divided opinion online with his Aberdonian accent in Des – with critics insisting they’re ‘not entirely convinced’, while others have claimed ‘it’s spot on’.

The Scottish actor, who grew up in Paisley, Renfrewshire, near Glasgow, adopted the voice of one of Britain’s most notorious killers, Dennis Nilsen, for ITV’s gripping three-part drama, which concludes this evening.

Born in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Nilsen is believed to have murdered as many as 15 gay men, most of them homeless, at his homes in Cricklewood and Muswell Hill, north London, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The serial killer, who died at the age of 74 in 2018 at HMP Full Sutton, 34 years into his life sentence, had a mild Doric accent, the distinctive dialect of the Scottish North-East – and viewers were divided on Doctor Who star David’s interpretation of it.


David Tennant (pictured left) adopted the voice of one of Britain’s most notorious killers, Dennis Nilsen (pictured right), for ITV’s gripping three-part drama Des

But David has divided opinion online (above) with his Aberdonian accent in Des – with critics insisting they’re ‘not entirely convinced’, while others have claimed ‘it’s spot on’

One person wrote: ‘Sorry but I’ve seen these tweets about David Tennant’s Fraserburgh accent being spot on and I just cannot understand how? He sounds more Glasgow majority of the time.’

Another said: ‘David Tennant is a cracking actor but that’s a pants North-East Scotland accent.’

A third added: ‘I’m not entirely convinced by David Tennant’s [Aberdonian] accent’, while a fourth wrote: ‘Tennant is fantastic but his [Aberdonian] accent is pretty awful. Sounds more like an Edinburgh twang.’

However, others were impressed with the Broadchurch actor’s performance, with one writing:  ‘David Tennant really be out blowing my mind once again with his talent. Using a different Scottish accent to his real one.’

A second said: ‘It’s so refreshing to hear a Scottish accent done right,’ while another added: ‘David Tennant’s accent is spot on.’

The serial killer, who died at the age of 74 in 2018 at HMP Full Sutton, 34 years into his life sentence, had a mild Doric accent, the distinctive dialect of the Scottish North-East – and viewers were divided on Doctor Who star David’s interpretation of it (above)

Reaction: However, other social media users (pictured) were impressed with the Broadchurch actor’s performance

The horrific story of Nilsen is being told in the chilling programme from ITV this week – which has been revealed as its biggest drama launch of the year after an average 5.4million viewers tuned in to watch David play the serial killer.

Speaking to Radio Times about preparing for his role, David said: ‘There is some footage of Nilsen in an interview he did with Granada Television when he was in prison, and he was an avid home movie-maker, some of which survive, so we were able to see those.

‘It was a useful starting point to see how he moved and how he sounded, as there are occasional bits of audio of him around, too. And of course the notebooks – he wrote and wrote and wrote in prison.’

During his killing spree, Nilsen would befriend his subjects in pubs and bars in London before luring them into his flat, where he would murder them and sit with their corpses before dismembering them. Pictured: David Tennant playing Nilsen

Some Twitter users (above) appeared to be unaware that David Tennant is Scottish, as they suggested his accent is ‘hopeless’

During his killing spree, Nilsen would befriend his subjects in pubs and bars in London before luring them into his flat, where he would murder them and sit with their corpses before dismembering them.

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.

Nilsen 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.   

Des also features performances from Daniel Mays as Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jays and Jason Watkins as Nilsen biographer Brian Masters. 

Dennis Nilsen: The Muswell Hill murderer who slaughtered 15 men

Dennis Nilsen killed at least 15 men over a period of six years in London in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Most of his victims were homosexual or homeless men who he would pick up in bars across London or on the street.

After inviting them to his home, Nilsen would ply his victims with food and alcohol before killing then. His preferred method was strangulation.

Once dead, he dismembered their bodies by dissecting them in his house. In his first address, Melrose Avenue, he buried their remains in the garden. In Cranley Gardens however he was forced to take other measures.

Once arrested he told police how he boiled the heads of his victims in a large cooking pot to dispose of their brains.

Nilsen (right), with a prison warden at his side, after he was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years imprisonment after being convicted of six murders and two attempted murders at the Old Bailey

He would cut up the rest of their bodies and store them in plastic bin bags at the property. When the stench of their rotting corpses became stronger, he tried to flush their limbs down the toilet and drains.

This caused a large blockage in the pipes. Seemingly oblivious to risk, Nilsen audaciously complained to a waste company about the blockage and asked for it to be resolved because he and other residents were suffering as a result.

When a worker Dyno-Rod arrived at the property in 1983 to unblock them, he discovered what appeared to be flesh and fragments of bone when he opened a drain cover outside the property.

The following day, after inspecting another section of pipe, he and his supervisor discovered what they thought were bones of a human hand.

They alerted police who arrested Nilsen as he returned home from work. While in custody he admitted to killing at least 15 people.

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