The Crazy True Story Behind Netflix’s ‘Baby Reindeer’—The ‘Real’ Stalker Sends 41,000 Emails to The Victim

Tam
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June 10, 2024

Monica Mercuri

Updated May 24, 2024, 09:25am EDT

L-R Richard Gadd as Donny, Jessica Gunning as Martha in "Baby Reindeer"
L-R Richard Gadd as Donny, Jessica Gunning as Martha in “Baby Reindeer”ED MILLER/NETFLIX

Netflix’s new miniseries Baby Reindeer is trending on Netflix—and it’s the kind of show that’ll have you glued to your TV screen. It unravels Scottish comedian Richard Gadd’s experience with a stalker in his 20s. Find out what happened in real life, including why the woman claiming to be Martha is now threatening legal action against Gadd.

Baby Reindeer—which began as a one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe—stars Gadd as a fictionalized version of himself named Donny Dunn, a struggling comedian and bartender stalked by a woman named Martha. The pair first crossed paths when Donny served the lonely woman a free cup of tea at the bar where he worked.

“That one act of kindness changes Donny’s life forever, because for the next three years, Martha stalks him,” said Jessica Gunning, who plays Martha, to Tudum. “She sends him 41,000 emails and hundreds of hours worth of voice messages. But it’s not your conventional stalker storyline.”

The first episode of Baby Reindeer has been watched by more than 3 million viewers over the past seven days, according to Deadline. The series has also dominated online viewing in the UK over the past week.

Is Baby Reindeer On Netflix A True Story?

Richard Gadd as Donny in "Baby Reindeer"
Richard Gadd as Donny in “Baby Reindeer”ED MILLER/NETFLIX

Yes, Baby Reindeer retells the true story of the stalking and harassment Scottish comedian Richard Gadd endured at the hands of a middle-aged woman who goes by the pseudonym Martha in the Netflix series.

Over four and a half years, the woman sent him 41,071 emails, 350 hours’ worth of voicemails, 744 tweets, 46 Facebook messages, 106 pages of letters, and a variety of weird gifts, including a reindeer toy, sleeping pills, a woolly hat and boxer shorts. She obsessively stalked Gadd outside of his home, workplace, and on stage in comedy clubs, even going as far as harassing his loved ones, including his parents and a trans woman he started dating.

“At first everyone at the pub thought it was funny that I had an admirer,” Gadd said in an interview with U.K.’s The Times. “Then she started to invade my life, following me, turning up at my gigs, waiting outside my house, sending thousands of voicemails and emails.”

When Gadd eventually went to the police, he was “getting told off for harassing the police about being harassed,” the actor recalled to The Guardian in 2019. “I’ve been through two police investigations in my life and they’ve both been hilarious, fly-on-the-wall terrible. Honestly my advice to someone who ever thought of pressing charges would be: it’s a f*cking nightmare process, and it takes years.”FORBESThe Chilling True Story Behind Netflix’s ‘What Jennifer Did’-Your Questions AnsweredBy

The stalking began after Gadd was groomed, raped, and repeatedly sexually assaulted by an older, successful TV writer, as highlighted in the fourth episode of the series. In the show, the man offers to mentor Donny and invites him to his London flat, where they would take hard drugs and the abuse would take place.

“I don’t want to speak for every person that’s been sexually abused, but one of the most common ramifications is self-blame,” Gadd told The Independent. “‘Why did I go there? Why did I do this?’ Why did I… blah, blah blah. I’ve lived in a prison of self-hate and self-punishment. But writing it down in a chronological way, and processing it… I guess I learned to empathise with myself a little bit more.”

Who Is The Real Martha In Baby Reindeer?

Jessica Gunning as Martha in "Baby Reindeer"
Jessica Gunning as Martha in “Baby Reindeer”ED MILLER/NETFLIX

The woman who stalked Richard Gadd is not named Martha, so who was she? Richard Gadd said he is keeping those details private. The actor told GQ that he has never revealed her real name to the media and changed key facts about her for the Netflix show.

“We’ve gone to such great lengths to disguise her to the point that I don’t think she would recognise herself,” he explained. “What’s been borrowed is an emotional truth, not a fact-by-fact profile of someone.”

After the Netflix show was released, the alleged stalker who inspired Martha told the Daily Mail on April 26, 2024, that she was considering taking legal action against Gadd.

The woman insisted that now, Gadd was the one who was obsessed with her. “He’s using Baby Reindeer to stalk me now,” she told the tabloid. “I’m the victim. He’s written a bloody show about me.”

She also called Gadd’s script “bullying an older woman on television for fame and fortune” and that she had received online “death threats and abuse from Richard Gadd supporters.” She also told the site that she “never owned a toy baby reindeer and I wouldn’t have had any conversation with Richard Gadd about a childhood toy either.”

The new interview comes after Gadd urged his followers to stop speculating about who the real Martha could be.

“People I love, have worked with, and admire (including Sean Foley) are unfairly getting caught up in speculation,” Gadd posted in a now-expired Instagram Story on Monday. “Please don’t speculate on who any of the real life people could be. That’s not the point of our show.”

Foley also addressed rumors suggesting he was the person who groomed and sexually assaulted Gadd. “Police have been informed and are investigating all defamatory abusive and threatening posts against me,” the British director wrote on X on April 23.

In an interview with BBC Scotland’s The Edit, Gadd’s co-star Gunning called the Baby Reindeer speculation “quite sad” and “not the point of the show at all.”

“If you like the show and you are a fan of it, you should stick with the story of Martha and Donny being what connects you, not trying to do any detective work and find out any real identities,” she said.

The actress added that Netflix went to “great lengths” to protect the identities of those involved. “Richard has done an amazing job of not making the story so black and white, so there’s no goody or baddy or villain or victim, really,” she said. “They are just complicated people like humans are.”

On May 8, Piers Morgan shared a photo of Fiona Harvey, the alleged woman claiming to be Gadd’s stalker. “The real-life Martha from Baby Reindeer breaks cover and gives me her first TV interview about the smash hit Netflix show,” he wrote in the tweet. “Fiona Harvey wants to have her say & ‘set the record straight.” The interview is airing on May 9 at 8 p.m. on Piers Morgan Uncensored on YouTube.https://embedly.forbes.com/widgets/media.html?type=text%2Fhtml&key=cfc0fb0733504c77aa4a6ac07caaffc7&schema=twitter&url=https%3A//twitter.com/piersmorgan/status/1788204774413730259&image=

What Happens To Martha In Baby Reindeer?

Jessica Gunning as Martha in "Baby Reindeer"
Jessica Gunning as Martha in “Baby Reindeer”ED MILLER/NETFLIX

In the show, after Martha leaves a threatening voicemail on Donny’s phone, she is arrested and charged with three counts of stalking and harassment. She pleads guilty and receives a nine-month prison sentence and a five-year restraining order.

In real life, it’s unknown what happened to Martha. Gadd suggested to The Times that his stalker did not go to prison, adding that he “didn’t want to throw someone who was that level of mentally unwell in prison.” He also revealed that he had “mixed feelings about it” but that the situation was now “resolved.”

“I can’t emphasize enough how much of a victim she is in all this,” he told The Independent. “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.”

In the years that followed, the trauma Gadd experienced was impacting his work, and ultimately, he had no choice “but to conflate the two.”

“I couldn’t keep my life separate from what I’d been through anymore. It was becoming increasingly hard to play the frivolous funnyman when I’d been through these kinds of things,” he told the publication“Because I don’t think I could have really survived having repressed it, and carried on doing these one-liners and surface-level routines. It was almost a survival choice. Because I was struggling so much.”

Baby Reindeer is now streaming on Netflix.

Source: Forbes

0

Apr 30, 2024,04:57pm EDT

Updated May 24, 2024, 09:25am EDT

L-R Richard Gadd as Donny, Jessica Gunning as Martha in "Baby Reindeer"
L-R Richard Gadd as Donny, Jessica Gunning as Martha in “Baby Reindeer”ED MILLER/NETFLIX

Netflix’s new miniseries Baby Reindeer is trending on Netflix—and it’s the kind of show that’ll have you glued to your TV screen. It unravels Scottish comedian Richard Gadd’s experience with a stalker in his 20s. Find out what happened in real life, including why the woman claiming to be Martha is now threatening legal action against Gadd.

Baby Reindeer—which began as a one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe—stars Gadd as a fictionalized version of himself named Donny Dunn, a struggling comedian and bartender stalked by a woman named Martha. The pair first crossed paths when Donny served the lonely woman a free cup of tea at the bar where he worked.

“That one act of kindness changes Donny’s life forever, because for the next three years, Martha stalks him,” said Jessica Gunning, who plays Martha, to Tudum. “She sends him 41,000 emails and hundreds of hours worth of voice messages. But it’s not your conventional stalker storyline.”

The first episode of Baby Reindeer has been watched by more than 3 million viewers over the past seven days, according to Deadline. The series has also dominated online viewing in the UK over the past week.

Is Baby Reindeer On Netflix A True Story?

Yes, Baby Reindeer retells the true story of the stalking and harassment Scottish comedian Richard Gadd endured at the hands of a middle-aged woman who goes by the pseudonym Martha in the Netflix series.

Forbes Daily: Join over 1 million Forbes Daily subscribers and get our best stories, exclusive reporting and essential analysis of the day’s news in your inbox every weekday.Get the latest news on special offers, product updates and content suggestions from Forbes and its affiliates.Sign Up

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Over four and a half years, the woman sent him 41,071 emails, 350 hours’ worth of voicemails, 744 tweets, 46 Facebook messages, 106 pages of letters, and a variety of weird gifts, including a reindeer toy, sleeping pills, a woolly hat and boxer shorts. She obsessively stalked Gadd outside of his home, workplace, and on stage in comedy clubs, even going as far as harassing his loved ones, including his parents and a trans woman he started dating.

“At first everyone at the pub thought it was funny that I had an admirer,” Gadd said in an interview with U.K.’s The Times. “Then she started to invade my life, following me, turning up at my gigs, waiting outside my house, sending thousands of voicemails and emails.”

When Gadd eventually went to the police, he was “getting told off for harassing the police about being harassed,” the actor recalled to The Guardian in 2019. “I’ve been through two police investigations in my life and they’ve both been hilarious, fly-on-the-wall terrible. Honestly my advice to someone who ever thought of pressing charges would be: it’s a f*cking nightmare process, and it takes years.”FORBESThe Chilling True Story Behind Netflix’s ‘What Jennifer Did’-Your Questions AnsweredBy

The stalking began after Gadd was groomed, raped, and repeatedly sexually assaulted by an older, successful TV writer, as highlighted in the fourth episode of the series. In the show, the man offers to mentor Donny and invites him to his London flat, where they would take hard drugs and the abuse would take place.

“I don’t want to speak for every person that’s been sexually abused, but one of the most common ramifications is self-blame,” Gadd told The Independent. “‘Why did I go there? Why did I do this?’ Why did I… blah, blah blah. I’ve lived in a prison of self-hate and self-punishment. But writing it down in a chronological way, and processing it… I guess I learned to empathise with myself a little bit more.”

Who Is The Real Martha In Baby Reindeer?

Jessica Gunning as Martha in “Baby Reindeer”ED MILLER/NETFLIX

The woman who stalked Richard Gadd is not named Martha, so who was she? Richard Gadd said he is keeping those details private. The actor told GQ that he has never revealed her real name to the media and changed key facts about her for the Netflix show.

“We’ve gone to such great lengths to disguise her to the point that I don’t think she would recognise herself,” he explained. “What’s been borrowed is an emotional truth, not a fact-by-fact profile of someone.”

After the Netflix show was released, the alleged stalker who inspired Martha told the Daily Mail on April 26, 2024, that she was considering taking legal action against Gadd.

The woman insisted that now, Gadd was the one who was obsessed with her. “He’s using Baby Reindeer to stalk me now,” she told the tabloid. “I’m the victim. He’s written a bloody show about me.”

She also called Gadd’s script “bullying an older woman on television for fame and fortune” and that she had received online “death threats and abuse from Richard Gadd supporters.” She also told the site that she “never owned a toy baby reindeer and I wouldn’t have had any conversation with Richard Gadd about a childhood toy either.”

The new interview comes after Gadd urged his followers to stop speculating about who the real Martha could be.

“People I love, have worked with, and admire (including Sean Foley) are unfairly getting caught up in speculation,” Gadd posted in a now-expired Instagram Story on Monday. “Please don’t speculate on who any of the real life people could be. That’s not the point of our show.”

Foley also addressed rumors suggesting he was the person who groomed and sexually assaulted Gadd. “Police have been informed and are investigating all defamatory abusive and threatening posts against me,” the British director wrote on X on April 23.

In an interview with BBC Scotland’s The Edit, Gadd’s co-star Gunning called the Baby Reindeer speculation “quite sad” and “not the point of the show at all.”

“If you like the show and you are a fan of it, you should stick with the story of Martha and Donny being what connects you, not trying to do any detective work and find out any real identities,” she said.

The actress added that Netflix went to “great lengths” to protect the identities of those involved. “Richard has done an amazing job of not making the story so black and white, so there’s no goody or baddy or villain or victim, really,” she said. “They are just complicated people like humans are.”

On May 8, Piers Morgan shared a photo of Fiona Harvey, the alleged woman claiming to be Gadd’s stalker. “The real-life Martha from Baby Reindeer breaks cover and gives me her first TV interview about the smash hit Netflix show,” he wrote in the tweet. “Fiona Harvey wants to have her say & ‘set the record straight.” The interview is airing on May 9 at 8 p.m. on Piers Morgan Uncensored on YouTube.https://embedly.forbes.com/widgets/media.html?type=text%2Fhtml&key=cfc0fb0733504c77aa4a6ac07caaffc7&schema=twitter&url=https%3A//twitter.com/piersmorgan/status/1788204774413730259&image=

What Happens To Martha In Baby Reindeer?

Jessica Gunning as Martha in "Baby Reindeer"
Jessica Gunning as Martha in “Baby Reindeer”ED MILLER/NETFLIX

In the show, after Martha leaves a threatening voicemail on Donny’s phone, she is arrested and charged with three counts of stalking and harassment. She pleads guilty and receives a nine-month prison sentence and a five-year restraining order.

In real life, it’s unknown what happened to Martha. Gadd suggested to The Times that his stalker did not go to prison, adding that he “didn’t want to throw someone who was that level of mentally unwell in prison.” He also revealed that he had “mixed feelings about it” but that the situation was now “resolved.”

“I can’t emphasize enough how much of a victim she is in all this,” he told The Independent. “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.”

In the years that followed, the trauma Gadd experienced was impacting his work, and ultimately, he had no choice “but to conflate the two.”

“I couldn’t keep my life separate from what I’d been through anymore. It was becoming increasingly hard to play the frivolous funnyman when I’d been through these kinds of things,” he told the publication“Because I don’t think I could have really survived having repressed it, and carried on doing these one-liners and surface-level routines. It was almost a survival choice. Because I was struggling so much.”

Baby Reindeer is now streaming on Netflix.https://embedly.forbes.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2Feafm1gB6SCM%3Ffeature%3Doembed&display_name=YouTube&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Deafm1gB6SCM&image=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2Feafm1gB6SCM%2Fhqdefault.jpg&key=3ce26dc7e3454db5820ba084d28b4935&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=youtube

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Monica MercuriFollow

I’m an experienced freelance writer specializing in music, TV, film, and general entertainment news. Previously, I was the Primetime Editor at SOAPS.com,… Read More

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