Where was Des filmed?

Telling the story of the arrest in 1983 of serial killer Dennis Nilsen, Des is a gripping, if gruesome, miniseries.

Dennis Nilsen killed at least 12 young men in his London flat. He was only caught when he tried to dispose of one of the bodies. The name of the drama comes from the nickname Nilsen insisted police call him.

Find out where this tense and fascinating drama was filmed below, and take a look at our TV Map of Britain to find your favourite TV show hotspots.

Des filming locations: Watford, North London

Nilsen’s first murders were carried out in a flat in Melrose Avenue in Cricklewood. While his flat is still standing, the crew filmed Des in Watford, as the street has a similar appearance. This North London suburb has several historic, terraced houses with the perfect exterior for Des’s flat.

Des filming locations: Cranley Gardens, Crouch End, London

Another address where Nilsen murdered his victims was in Cranley Gardens. The actual flat wasn’t used but exteriors were filmed on this road using a similar property. Nowadays, Cranley Gardens is a leafy and peaceful neighbourhood but you may bump into the odd true-crime fan visiting the notorious street. Nilsen’s flat has been sold many times since the 1980s.

Des filming locations: Holloway Prison, Holloway, London

Several sets were built in the disused Holloway Prison. The prison dates back to Victorian times and held female prisoners until it was closed in 2016. Holloway had many notable inmates over the years, including Suffragettes, political prisoners, and infamous murderers.

In real life, Nilsen was held at HM Prison Full Sutton before his trial. These scenes were recreated in Holloway. A set for the interior of Nilsen’s Melrose Avenue flat was also built within the prison walls. The crew used crime scene photos to recreate his home with chilling accuracy.

Des filming locations: HMP Shepton Mallet, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

Later prison scenes were filmed at HMP Shepton Mallet, a prison that closed in 2013. While Nilsen was never held here, it has had many notorious prisoners over the years, including the Kray twins, and is often used as a filming location.

Members of the public can visit the prison for a guided tour, learning all about its long history and rumoured hauntings. Those who enjoy visiting macabre attractions can even step into the former execution room, where many criminals were hanged over the years.

Des filming locations: Central Criminal Court, City of London

Commonly known as The Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court is where the court scenes were filmed and, in real life, it’s where Nilsen stood trial. The Old Bailey has held trials on the same site since at least the 16th-century. Nowadays, it hears the most serious cases.

You can recognise this imposing building by the Statue of Justice on its dome. While much of the building has a historic style, it was largely rebuilt post-war due to bomb damage. Many high-profile trials have been heard here over the years, among them Peter Sutcliffe and Dr Crippen.