Summary

  • Richard Gadd’s real stalker’s identity remains a mystery in Baby Reindeer, as he uses the pseudonym “Martha” for the character’s name and seems to have changed revealing details about her.
  • Baby Reindeer focuses on the harrowing effects of Martha’s stalking through technological and in-person harassment, excluding the physical gifts Richard Gadd received.
  • Richard Gadd’s 2016 comedy show Monkey See Monkey Do is not a plot point in Netflix’s Baby Reindeer, despite the overlapping timeline.

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This article contains spoilers for Baby Reindeer (2024) and heavy mention of stalking, harassment, and sexual assault.

Baby Reindeer may be based on creator and star Richard Gadd’s real-life stalker, but the hit Netflix miniseries leaves out some details from the true story. Before it was adapted for the small screen, Gadd’s Baby Reindeer began as a one-man show that premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe back in August 2019. The autobiographical performance consisted of the then-30-year-old Scottish comedian doing a dramatized re-telling of his real-life experience with a female stalker. Gadd first met the older woman, for whom he uses the pseudonym “Martha,” when he served her a free drink at a pub in his 20s.

After winning multiple awards and doing a five-week run at The Bush Theatre in London before moving to the Ambassador’s Theatre (which was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic), Baby Reindeer was eventually reworked into a seven-part miniseries that was released on Netflix on April 11, 2024. In addition to writing all seven episodes of Baby Reindeer, Gadd continued to play the fictionalized version of himself named Donny Dunn in the miniseries. Now that it was no longer a one-man show, the unseen characters from the stage production were cast in Baby Reindeer, with Jessica Gunning playing Martha.

Baby Reindeer is the #1 show on Netflix’s Top 10 chart at the time of writing.

While “the skeleton of the story is absolutely true” in Baby Reindeer both onstage and onscreen, Gadd admits that he amped up the thrill factor to dispel the “relentless tediousness and frustration” that actually accompanies getting stalked and harassed more often than not (via The Guardian). When the story took on the medium of television in a limited format, the reality of the situation ended up getting altered even more. Although Gadd insists that the miniseries still “never moved too far from the truth” (via GQ), some elements of Baby Reindeer‘s true story were left out.

All seven episodes of Baby Reindeer are available to stream on Netflix.

5 Baby Reindeer Does Not Include Richard Gadd’s Real Stalker’s Name

Gadd Used “Martha” As A Pseudonym For His Stalker In Baby Reindeer

In Baby Reindeer, Donny’s stalker’s first name is revealed to be Martha almost right away and her last name is confirmed to be “Scott” later in the miniseries. While “Martha” is the same pseudonym Gadd used in the original one-man show, “Martha Scott” is not the name of Gadd’s actual stalker in real life. In fact, Gadd has never revealed this woman’s real name at all, first or last.

Other details about Gadd’s real stalker may have been altered in Baby Reindeer to further conceal her true identity, like her former profession as a lawyer or aspects of her overall appearance.

It appears as though her name isn’t the only thing that Gadd changed, either. “We’ve gone to such great lengths to disguise her to the point that I don’t think she would recognize herself,” Gadd told GQ about the portrayal of his stalker in Baby Reindeer. He went on to say that the character of Martha is “not a fact-by-fact profile of someone, all of which suggests that other details about Gadd’s real stalker may have been altered in Baby Reindeer to further conceal her true identity, like her former profession as a lawyer or aspects of her overall appearance.

When dealing with fictionalized depictions of true events, “you need to change things to protect people,” which seems to extend to his stalker in this case.

It’s possible that these efforts to obscure his stalker’s real identity were to avoid getting sued or simply stoking the fire, but it seems to stem more from Gadd’s empathy for this woman, which he’s spoken about at length. Gadd has stated many times that he believes that “stalking is a mental illness” and that his own stalker was a victim herself. “I saw someone who was unwell, needed help, [and] was quite vulnerable,” he told Radio Times. “I wasn’t dealing with someone who felt calculated or insidious,” he echoed to GQ.

As Gadd noted himself, when dealing with fictionalized depictions of true events, “you need to change things to protect people,” which seems to extend to his stalker in this case. In his view, “Martha” was not a villainous criminal who deserves to be called out, so exposing the real “Martha” in any capacity would have only caused further harm to someone who’s already vulnerable and unstable. “She needs help, but she’s not getting any, he told The Guardian.

Gadd’s Stalker Sent Him An Alarming Number Of Emails, Tweets, Facebook Messages, Letters, & Voicemails

One aspect of the theatrical production that the Baby Reindeer miniseries kept was the use of Gadd’s real-life messages from “Martha” in both audio and written form. In the stage show, the barrage of texts and emails from her were shown onscreen and the seemingly endless voicemails were broadcast over the speakers. Although the phone calls don’t arrive until the finale of the miniseries, each episode of Baby Reindeer opens with a typo-ridden email from Martha, in which she calls Donny the titular pet name.

Martha’s incessant harassment of Donny via technology is made evident through these storytelling devices.

More of these messages appear against the same black backdrop throughout the episode, giving Donny and the viewer a glimpse into Martha’s state of mind at that given moment. Donny’s inbox would also occasionally be shown on his laptop screen, flooded with dozens upon dozens of unread e-mails from Martha. Once she gets ahold of his phone number in the finale after he absentmindedly sent it out in a mass email, Martha starts leaving Donny nonstop voicemails, too, which he begins to obsessively dissect. Martha’s incessant harassment of Donny via technology is made evident through these storytelling devices.

In reality, Gadd’s stalker sent him a total of 41,071 emails, 744 tweets, and 46 Facebook messages. She also wrote him letters totalling 106 pages and left him a total of 350 hours of voicemail messages.

However, Baby Reindeer never reveals the exact total of each type of message the real “Martha” sent during the years she spent stalking Gadd. In reality, Gadd’s stalker sent him a total of 41,071 emails, 744 tweets, and 46 Facebook messages. She also wrote him letters totalling 106 pages and left him a total of 350 hours of voicemail messages (via The Independent). The point still gets across, but including the astronomically high count in the police investigation or during her plea hearing would have served to emphasize the sheer degree of her obsession and put it into perspective for the audience.

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3 Martha Does Not Give Donny Any Of The Gifts Richard Gadd Received From His Stalker In Baby Reindeer

Gadd’s Stalker Gave Him Some Very Bizarre Presents In Real Life, Including A Reindeer Toy

In addition to the endless stream of emails, voicemail messages, letters, texts, and communication via Facebook and Twitter, Gadd’s stalker also gifted him an array of very questionable items. Per Independant, the real “Martha” sent Gadd a vial of sleeping pills, a woolly hat, a brand-new pair of boxer shorts, and, most notably, a reindeer toy. Though she called Gadd by several nicknames, “baby reindeer” was her most commonly used pet name for him, hence the name of the show and the stuffed animal he received from her in real life.

It seems like a missed opportunity not to include the reindeer toy in the Netflix miniseries as a symbol of Martha’s obsession with Donny.

Surprisingly, Martha does not give nor send Donny any gifts in Baby Reindeer. Her harassment of him is limited to her in-person appearances—showing up to his work, house, and comedy gigs and following him around—and technological correspondence. Martha doesn’t even write Donny any letters like Gadd’s stalker did in real life.

More than anything, it seems like a missed opportunity not to include the reindeer toy in the Netflix miniseries as a symbol of Martha’s obsession with Donny. The sight of the cute and seemingly innocent creature could have created an interesting juxtaposition with Martha’s looming presence that it would represent for Donny. However, it ultimately makes sense that the gifted reindeer toy was omitted from Baby Reindeer on Netflix.

The very last scene of the miniseries shows Donny listening to one of Martha’s unheard voicemails. In the message, Martha explains that she calls him “baby reindeer” because he reminds her of a cuddly, fluffy baby reindeer toy from her childhood that she still has to this day. When she was a kid, Martha would carry this toy around with her everywhere and squeeze it extra tight when her parents fought, which was often. According to Martha, Donny is the spitting image of her reindeer with the same “big lips, huge eyes, and a cute wee bum.

Had Martha actually given Donny the reindeer toy in Baby Reindeer, this powerful closing scene wouldn’t have existed.

This reveal hits Donny hard, causing him to gain new insight and understanding into Martha’s psyche and making him sympathize with her more. Had Martha actually given Donny the reindeer toy in Baby Reindeer, this powerful closing scene wouldn’t have existed or might have come earlier instead, which wouldn’t have had the same effect. Excluding the gifts Gadd received from his stalker allowed for this pivotal moment in Baby Reindeer to exist, which ties the whole series together.

2 Baby Reindeer Does Not Feature Richard Gadd’s Monkey See Monkey Do Show

Monkey See Monkey Do Is Richard Gadd’s 2016 Comedy Show About His Experience As A Sexual Assault Survivor

During the plea hearing in court, the judge specifies that Martha has been charged with stalking and harassing Donny from August 14, 2015, until March 22, 2017. Donny’s typed account of each incident with Martha also corroborates that the series’ timeline of events started in August 2015. During this nearly two-year period in real life, Gadd was developing and performing his multi-award-winning comedy show Monkey See Monkey Do, which preceded Baby Reindeer.

Even though Gadd was touring Monkey See Monkey Do during the timeline of events depicted in the miniseries when the real “Martha” was still actively stalking him, Donny is never seen writing, developing, or performing the show in Baby Reindeer.

Monkey See Monkey Do premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2016, three years before Baby Reindeer. Gadd spent the duration of the performance running on a treadmill with a gorilla in close pursuit, which culminates in him disclosing his experiences as a survivor of sexual assault. Gadd did multiple sold-out runs of Monkey See Monkey Do at the Soho Theatre in London before touring the UK and Europe and making a stop at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in April 2017.

Even though Gadd was touring Monkey See Monkey Do during the timeline of events depicted in the miniseries when the real “Martha” was still actively stalking him, Donny is never seen writing, developing, or performing the show in Baby Reindeer. Instead, the themes and subject matter of Monkey See Monkey Do are essentially integrated into the story of the miniseries. Baby Reindeer goes much further in-depth about the extensive sexual abuse he endured by bringing the audience along with Donny through flashbacks.

Gadd then opted to have Donny make an impromptu confessional about his trauma onstage during his regular prop-focused set, which doesn’t appear to have ever happened in real life. After the video of his heartwrenching breakdown goes viral, Donny’s comedy career begins to flourish, which seems to represent Gadd’s Monkey See Monkey Do success in real life. He is invited to interviews and gets plenty of stand-up opportunities, but he is never shown running on a treadmill with a gorilla in close pursuit.

After erasing the timeline of events on his laptop, Donny writes the first line of Baby Reindeer (“I felt sorry for her. That’s the first feeling I left“) in the blank document.

1 Martha Does Not Continue Harassing Donny’s Family & Friends After The Restraining Order Is Granted In Baby Reindeer

Gadd’s Real Stalker Was Not Sentenced To Any Prison Time

Just like Gadd’s real stalker, Martha’s harassment is not limited to just Donny in Baby Reindeer. Martha bombards his ex-girlfriend Keeley (Shalom Brune-Franklin) with messages on Facebook and starts calling his parents nonstop. She even physically attacks Donny’s love interest, Teri (Nava Mau).

Baby Reindeer‘s ending sees Martha finally getting arrested after Donny finds evidence of her seemingly threatening to stab him and his parents on his voicemail. Martha pleads guilty to all three counts of stalking and harassment and is sentenced to nine months in prison. Donny is also granted a five-year restraining order against Martha and never sees her again after her plea hearing. Although Gadd was also granted a restraining order against his stalker in real life, he “didn’t want to throw someone who was that level of mentally unwell in prison” (via The Times).

She couldn’t make contact with him anymore, but the real “Martha” had still been harassing Gadd’s friends and family until recently at that point.

As such, the real “Martha” seems to have never been incarcerated for her crimes against Gadd. According to The Guardian, Gadd’s stalker was “still at large” around the time that Baby Reindeer premiered at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, at which point he’d already gotten a restraining order against her. She couldn’t make contact with him anymore, but the real “Martha” had still been harassing Gadd’s friends and family until recently at that point.

Because Gadd decided to change what happened to the real Martha in Baby Reindeer by having the character go to prison, Martha does not continue to harass Donny’s friends and family after his restraining order is granted. Once she’s incarcerated, Martha is never seen or heard from again in Baby Reindeer, unlike Gadd’s real stalker.

Sources: The Guardian,GQ, Radio Times, Independent, The Times

Baby Reindeer (2024)

Baby Reindeer is a dark comedy series based on a true story and a stage play of the same name. It centers around Gus, a barista who becomes the focus of an intense and unsettling obsession by one of his customers, Martha. After a seemingly harmless interaction, Martha’s fascination with Gus spirals out of control and begins to wreak havoc on his life.

Cast
Richard Gadd , Jessica Gunning , Danny Kirrane , Nava Mau

Release Date
April 11, 2024

Seasons
1

Creator(s)
Richard Gadd

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