The crazy true story behind ‘Baby Reindeer’
(Credit: Netflix)


The crazy true story behind ‘Baby Reindeer’

Created by Richard Gadd, Baby Reindeer is an adaptation of Gadd’s acclaimed play of the same name. With eight gripping episodes lined up, the show is perched perfectly to captivate us with its raw portrayal of a crazy stalker story that becomes at once scary and gutwrenching.

Starring Richard Gadd himself as the protagonist, Donny, alongside Jessica Gunning as Martha and Nava Mau as Teri, the series, all set to debut on Netflix this week, follows Donny’s tumultuous journey as he grapples with the haunting presence of Martha, a relentless stalker whose actions spiral into a harrowing ordeal. 

In a heartfelt open letter written on Netflix, Gadd expressed his concerns with people’s expectations, “When I decided to debut Baby Reindeer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019, it had been two years since Martha was out my life, and I was facing an entirely new pressure. The court of public opinion.”

As Donny navigates trauma, obsession, and the desperate human need for connection and validation, Baby Reindeer is primed to tell a story that blurs the lines between reality and madness. Read on to learn more about how Gadd’s ordeal began.

The events that inspired Baby Reindeer

The genesis of Baby Reindeer lies in a real-life nightmare that Richard Gadd endured in reality. A successful writer and comedian, Gadd found himself trapped in a strange saga of stalking and harassment by an individual he refers to only as Martha. The torment began innocuously enough when Martha, whose true identity remains undisclosed, crossed paths with Gadd in a London pub. All he did was offer her a complimentary tea, one human to another as a simple nice gesture.

From that seemingly innocuous encounter, Martha’s fixation on Gadd intensified, plunging him into a relentless barrage of messages, gifts, and unwelcome appearances at his home and performances. As he grappled with Martha’s suffocating presence, Gadd’s life became a battleground. “At its height, it was almost unbearable,” Gadd told Channel 4.

Despite seeking recourse through legal channels, Gadd found himself entangled in a bureaucratic quagmire where Martha’s actions fell short of immediate intervention. The sheer volume of her texts was not enough to incriminate her. “She was sending me thousands of emails; that’s harassment. If I prodded you 2,000 times a day in the shoulder, that would be harassment,” Gadd mentioned in an interview with inews.

Gadd wrote, “I was now in the fourth year of being stalked by a woman, whose only skill greater than her ability to harass was her ability to evade the law.” The sheer volume of her messages, while not overtly threatening individually, became overbearing. The messages would range from “hurled insults to deep expressions of love and longing.” Gadd was exhausted emotionally, “It was too much for anyone to bear.”

Amidst the turmoil, Gadd turned to his craft as a means of catharsis and storytelling. Baby Reindeer emerged from the depths of Gadd’s anguish as he channelled his experiences into a theatrical production. Through a meticulous process spanning over two-and-a-half years, Gadd crafted a story that mirrored his reality’s tumultuous terrain.

Gadd was afraid to do a “warts and all” version of the story. He knew he had erred when he initially gave in to flirting with Martha. A sexual abuse survivor, Gadd knew he was putting it all out there for everyone to judge, as he put it, his “internalised prejudice and sexual shame.” Gadd was terrified that he would be accused of being complicit.

The real Martha is now legally barred from contacting Gadd or anyone associated with him, but he is still dealing with the aftermath of what she did to him.

You can start streaming Baby Reindeer on Netflix from April 11th, 2024.