Is Baby Reindeer Based On A True Story?


Baby Reindeer is a Netflix miniseries that follows the experiences of a comedian, Donny Dunn, when a woman, Martha, stalks him. The stalker shows up at the pub where Donny Dunn works and sits at the counter crying. She does not order a drink, saying she has no money, so Donny gives her tea on the house. The simple act of kindness led to an obsessive stalking that threatened to wreck Donny’s life. Donny discovers that Martha is a serial stalker, but his empathetic feelings towards the woman based on a past trauma worsen the situation. 

What happened to Richard Gadd?

Richard Gadd plays the character Donny Dunn in the miniseries, and the story is about Gadd’s real-life experience with a woman stalker he met at a bar where he was working. Gadd is a Scottish writer, comedian, and actor. He met Martha at a pub and showed her an act of kindness by buying her a cup of tea.

According to Gadd, Martha stalked him for over four years; she showed up at his workplace, comedy gigs, and home. She also sent him over 4100 emails, 46 Facebook messages, 350 hours of voicemails, 106 pages of letters, and 744 posts on Twitter. Gadd tried reporting the issue to the police, but he was told that Martha’s actions were not illegal since she had not threatened him. 

Is Richard Gadd’s past trauma depicted in the series true?

In the series, primarily the agonising episode 4, Gadd takes us back to a dark time in his life when he became a victim of sexual violence. The assaulter, Darrien, takes advantage of Donny’s vulnerability in his quest to advance his comedy career, drugged and violated him.

Gadd has openly talked about his experiences as a survivor of sexual violence in most of his stage shows, and in Baby Reindeer, he explains how the trauma of the experience influenced how he dealt with Martha. 

Why did Richard Gadd create Baby Reindeer?

In an interview with Netflix Tudum, Gadd explains that most stalker stories tend to be sexualised, but from his experience, stalking is a mental illness. Therefore, when he created the show, Gadd wanted to showcase the human aspect of the experiences of people who have suffered the same ordeals in real life.

As seen in the series, Gadd is empathetic to Martha from the first encounter, and throughout the series, he tries to understand why she stalks him. He goes to the police and does not tell them that he wants them to arrest her but says that she needs help.

Gadd adds that much abuse happens in everyday life stemming from power dynamics, relationships, and workplace dynamics. However, the psychological complexity of the experiences of both the victims and the stalkers is not portrayed in television shows. 

Gadd does not tell his story from a victim’s perspective since stalking is a different experience for anyone who has experienced it in real life. From his perspective, there were so many things that he did not handle right because of his past traumatic experiences.

In his perspective, survivors of abuse feel as much shame about being duped or manipulated as the shame they carry because of the abuse. Therefore, he was afraid of being honest about his experience with Martha because he subconsciously felt culpable, as if he had let it happen. Therefore, Gadd tries to be honest in the series to comfort people going through similar circumstances. 

How does Richard Gadd get rid of his stalker?

In the series, Donny goes through hours of voicemails until he finds one in which Martha threatens him and his family, giving the police a reason to arrest her. After her release, she is sentenced to nine months in prison and a five-year restraining order. However, Gadd never revealed Martha’s real identity but only said that the issue was resolved. 

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