As one of the biggest Doctor Who stars from back during the very heights of the show’s Tumblr TV fandom (and during an era where the series itself seemed especially happy to fan those flames), few modern actors have been as aggressively ’shipped, ’shopped, and lusted after as David Tennant. It’s the sort of thing that just kind of follows the Scottish actor around in the background everywhere he goes now, mostly ignored by himself, but ever-present in the conversations surrounding his work. David Tennant as a brooding detective? Sexy. David Tennant as a sociopathic mind-controller? Still kind of sexy! David Tennant as a sarcastic demon in a just-this-side-of-subtext romantic relationship with an immortal Michael Sheen? Oh, c’mon!
So, while we’re not suggesting that Tennant recently took on the role of real-life serial killer Dennis “Des” Nilsen in an upcoming ITV true-crime series strictly as an effort to throw his various over-devoted fans off his tracks—he mostly seems to pick projects based on what he finds interesting, usually to pretty good effect—the first images from the series do feel like the a laboratory case for whether you can create an image of David Tennant that the hordes will not, in fact, vibe with.
We’re not sure if the fact that Nilsen killed at least 12 young men—luring them into his home, strangling them, and then spending extended periods with their bodies—is a plus or minus in the Tennant = sexy mindset. (Ah, humanity: Truly, a rich tapestry of fucked-up delights.) Still, you’d think Nilsen’s haircut—which we can’t help but mentally label as “complete and total serial killer hair”—might have clued people in to his crimes. (He actually got caught after he called a plumbing company to clear out drains that he’d clogged by, uh, flushing human flesh down them as an attempted disposal method. Whoops!)
It’s not clear whether the new series (which also co-stars Daniel Mays and Brian Masters as the cop investigating Nilsen, and the biographer who told his story) will get a U.S. release; although the Muswell Hill Murderer was big news in the U.K. in the 1980s, it had a much less high profile across the pond. Regardless, though, we’ll always have these pictures to remind us of the lesson that so many prestige Hollywood pictures have proven in the past: The only thing separating all of us from being a serial killer is a bad set of glasses, and an especially objectionable skin care routine.