David Tennant's 'Des' has broken a ratings record for ITV.

David Tennant

David Tennant

The first episode of the three-part thriller series - in which David plays serial killer Dennis Nilsen - has become the broadcaster's biggest drama launch of 2020.

The first episode was watched by an average audience of 5.4 million people, according to new data, which confirmed that it's become ITV's biggest drama debut since 'Cleaning Up' in 2019.

'Des' also surpassed the viewer numbers of 'Quiz' - the drama show about Charles Ingram winning 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' - which attracted 5.3 million viewers earlier this year.

The thriller series peaked at 5.9 million viewers and research suggests that it was watched by nearly one-third of all TV viewers across its time slot period.

Earlier this month, meanwhile, David admitted to being "relieved" that Dennis Nilsen will not get to see 'Des'.

The actor is aware that Nilsen was obsessed with the "legend" of his murders, and he is therefore grateful that he won't get to relish in his story being told following his death in 2018 at the age of 72.

The former 'Doctor Who' star said: "One of the things Nilsen ­became obsessed with was the legend of Des.

"Whenever he slipped out of public consciousness, there was almost a sense he wanted to get back into it. That's why I'm very relieved he's not alive.

"I would hate for this to go out and him be sitting in a cell imagining we were in any way glorifying him.

"I'm sure he would have ­complained about everything we said and did, but at the same time would have been rather smugly pleased he was on television, so I think it's right and proper this is transmitting after he's gone."

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