Actress Jessica Gunning playing Martha in Baby Reindeer

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Image Credit: Ed Miller/Netflix

Baby Reindeer created a ton of buzz among Netflix subscribers. The seven-episode miniseries was inspired by Richard Gadd’s autobiographical one-person show of the same title, which follows his experience being stalked, harassed and sexually assaulted. Weeks after its premiere, a woman — whose identity was not disclosed — came forward, claiming that she was the person who inspired the character Martha Scott: the stalker of Gadd’s character, Donny Dunn.

Keep reading to learn more about the series’ true story and more.

The True Story Behind ‘Baby Reindeer’

A scene from Baby Reindeer
Ed Miller/Netflix

Gadd created and starred in his one-man show and miniseries Baby Reindeer, playing Donny Dunn. The writer and actor spoke with The Independent about the real-life inspiration behind his theatrical show. During his interview, Gadd recalled a woman — whom he called Martha — meeting him at the pub where he worked. After giving her a free cup of tea, she obsessively contacted him over time: 41,071 emails, 350 voicemail hours, 744 tweets, 46 Facebook DMs and 106 pages of letters to be exact.

“I certainly egged the situation on before I realized that it was as dangerous as it was,” Gadd told the publication in October 2019. “I behaved like a prick at times.”

While admitting he initially flirted with the older woman, Gadd pointed out that his actions, which were shown through his character, could “turn” his audience “against” him,” adding, “And they’re right to.”

“I can’t emphasize enough how much of a victim she is in all this,” he explained at the time. “When we think of stalkers, we always think of films like Misery and Fatal Attraction, where the stalker is a monstrous figure in the night down an alleyway. But usually, it’s a prior relationship or someone you know or a work colleague. Stalking and harassment is a form of mental illness. It would have been wrong to paint her as a monster, because she’s unwell, and the system’s failed her.”

After attempting to contact police, Gadd was told he needed actual evidence against Martha. “It’s not their fault – it’s the lack of funding, the lack of training, the lack of understanding, the lack of support for the victims,” Gadd said about law enforcement. “Even the police have come out and admitted that their attitudes to harassment are wrong and flawed. But admitting it is one thing. It needs fundamental change.”

“The laws surrounding harassment and abuse are so stupid because they look for black and white, good and evil, and that’s not how it works,” Gadd further explained. “I could intimidate you by turning up to your workplace every day and getting a coffee over the road and staring through the window at you. You might feel very uncomfortable about that. But unless you can prove that there’s some sort of physical threat, he can do as he pleases. That’s really jeopardizing your life. But you can really affect someone’s life within the parameters of legality, and that is sort of mad.”

Who Is the Real Martha From ‘Baby Reindeer’?

An unnamed woman claiming to have inspired the character Martha spoke with Daily Mail in April 2024. She accused Gadd of “using Baby Reindeer to stalk me now.”

“I’m the victim. He’s written a bloody show about me,” she told the outlet, adding that she allegedly received “death threats and abuse from Richard Gadd supporters.”

While speaking about the series’ character — who is played by actress Jessica Gunning — the woman said, “She sort of looks like me after I put on four stone during lockdown, but I’m not actually unattractive.”

What Happens at the End of ‘Baby Reindeer’?

The ending of the series sees Donny play a voicemail from Martha. In it, she explained that she called him “baby reindeer” because of a stuffed animal she had growing up.

“It was the only good thing about my childhood,” Martha explained in the voicemail. “Well, you are the [spitting image] of that reindeer. The same nose. The same eyes. The same cute wee bum. It means so much to me. You mean so much to me.”

Donny is moved to tears by Martha’s voicemail as he sits in a bar alone. He realizes that, in some ways, he and Martha are alike.

If you or anyone you know has been sexually abused, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing, recovering and more.

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