The wild true story behind Baby Reindeer: how Richard Gadd’s real-life stalker inspired hit show

Netflix’ newest hit series follows a writer and comedian as he deals with being stalked by a woman, and how it impacts him – and the whole thing is based on a jaw-dropping true story.

The seven-part series, titled Baby Reindeer, is based on the one-man theatre show of the same name which debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019 and was written by performer Richard Gadd.

Gadd himself is starring in Baby Reindeer, playing a character called Donny Dunn who is incessantly pursued by a serial stalker named Martha.

The IMDB plot summary says that Baby Reindeer is about the protagonist’s “warped relationship with his female stalker” and the impact of this forces him “to face a deep, dark buried trauma”.

Who is Richard Gadd?

Richard Gadd as Donny and Jessica Gunning as Martha in Baby Reindeer. (Netflix)

Gadd is a Scottish writer, actor, and comedian who has been performing since 2014.

Several of Gadd’s shows have been nominated for, and won, awards. For example, Baby Reindeer won two awards – the Scotsman Fringe First Award for New Writing and a Stage Award for Acting Excellence – after premiering at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Baby Reindeer later went onto a five-week run at The Bush Theatre in London where it won an Off West End Theatre Award for Best Video Design and later won an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre.

As an actor, Gadd appeared alongside Daniel Mays in the BBC2 drama Against The Law, which was nominated for a BAFTA, and had lead roles in BBC3’s Clique, Sky’s One Normal Night and Code 404, and E4’s Tripped.

Gadd is also a screenwriter who has written for Netflix’ Sex Education and comedy show The Last Leg.

What is the true story behind Baby Reindeer?

Gadd first met his stalker, who is called Martha in the show, while he was working at a pub.

He offered her a cup of tea, which led to her becoming obsessed with him. For three years afterwards, she sent him over 41,000 emails, 350-hours worth of voicemails, 744 posts on X (Twitter), 46 Facebook messages, and 106 pages of letters.

“Martha” would also go to his comedy shows and turned up at his house. Though Gadd reported this behaviour to the police, he was told it wasn’t illegal because she wasn’t being physically threatening.

“I was getting told off for harassing the police about being harassed. 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**king nightmare process, and it takes years,” Gadd previously told The Guardian.

He also told TimeOut that he “couldn’t believe it was allowed to get to that point from a legal perspective”.

Two-and-a-half years after Gadd met “Martha”, Gadd got a restraining order taken out against her but his friends and family were also subjected to harassment.

Though Gadd’s experience was traumatic, he didn’t want Baby Reindeer to paint out that he was the only victim.

“It would be unfair to say she was an awful person and I was a victim. That didn’t feel true,” he told The Guardian in 2019.

More recently, he spoke to RadioTimes about how he wanted to tell a story about how hard it was for both himself and his stalker: “When I was getting stalked… I saw someone who was unwell, needed help, was quite vulnerable. Stalking is a mental illness and it comes from a sort of fantasy addiction of some kind, this idea that this person is the answer to all your problems, so you’ll hear only what you want to hear, disregard the rest.”

“I just felt like it was an important story to tell,” he added.

Is Richard Gadd married?

Gadd has never been forthcoming with his relationship status – or lack thereof – and there is no evidence on social media that he is in a relationship, but it could be that he is extremely private with those details.

Who are the cast of Baby Reindeer?

Nava Mau’s character Teri dates Donny (Richard Gadd) in Baby Reindeer. (Netflix)

Gadd himself plays Donny Dunn, the protagonist, and Jessica Gunning plays the stalker Martha.

They are joined by Danny Kirrane, Huge Coles, Chloe Driver, Michael Wildman, Thomas Coombes, and Nava Mau in supporting roles.

Nava Mau in particular is making waves in Baby Reindeer. As an up-and-coming trans actress, Mau also plays a trans woman in the show – a therapist called Teri.

Teri meets Donny (Gadd) on a dating app but it unimpressed by the way he treats her and is unaware of his stalking situation.

“When I was reading the script, it felt like the first time reading a character written by someone who actually had known and loved a trans woman,” Mau told Netflix’s Tudum.

Baby Reindeer is available for streaming on Netflix now.

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