After Baby Reindeer Drops On Netflix, An Author Shares His Take On Viewers Misidentifying Man As Richard Gadd’s Alleged Sexual Abuser

 Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer.
Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer.

This article features major spoilers from Netflix's Baby Reindeer, so make sure to read with caution!

Baby Reindeer has become one of the best Netflix series and managed to reach the #1 spot amongst the streamer's trending TV shows. Even at present, it still remains in the Top 10 list. But, with the unexpected popularity of the Richard Gadd-created series, fans obsessed with the series took to some Internet sleuthing to find out who inspired the stalker character, Martha and the person who abused Gadd’s character on the show. Author Richard Osman is now giving his take on the latter, as viewers misidentified the man they believed to be Gadd’s purported abuser.

The first episode of Baby Reindeer cautions viewers that “This is a true story” and not “based on a true story.” For context, Scottish talent Richard Gadd’s one-man show portrayed his experiences with stalking and sexual abuse, and it was turned into a popular Netflix show. (Even author Stephen King became obsessed with the viral series.) What seems to interest people most is that, with this said to be a true story, the alleged real-life characters seen on the show are apparently based on actual individuals.

Baby Reindeer introduces Martha, who stalks Donny (played by Gadd) for months through a series of in-person visits, emails and voicemails. There’s also the character of Darrien -- a television writer who helps Donny with his standup routine only to sexually abuse him in the process. With viewers believing they knew the identity of these alleged real-life characters, The Thursday Murder Club author Richard Osman spoke on his podcast, The Rest is Entertainment, alongside Marina Hyde about the industry apparently knowing who the character of “Darrien” really is. As the two discussed the complexities of the situation, Osman said:

As you say, there’s a very, very serious thing that happens. Richard Gadd, who, as you say, did the show in Edinburgh and has been very open to people in the industry about who that person was. So people in the industry know who that person was. … And obviously that person hasn’t been prosecuted, has never gone to trial. But everyone knows who he’s talking about.

The character of Darrien was shown to be a writer for a famous (and fictional) TV series, Cotton Mouth. Fans eventually took it upon themselves to seek out the person who served as the basis for the fictional show business veteran. During the podcast (which was shared to YouTube), Richard Osman continued to talk about the dangers that social media presents when it comes to accusing people of being abusers. He spoke of one man who was falsely accused as the source of inspiration for “Darrien," saying:

Now, it comes out now, and a completely different person is identified, someone who has produced Richard Gadd before, but is definitively not the person in any way. But the person they’ve cast in that role looks like this other guy, looks like the guy who’s been falsely accused. And it’s such a weird, bizarre thing to do. Because this poor guy has had death threats, and he’s had to issue a statement and say it’s not me. And it is not him, definitely not, because people in the industry know who it is. And it’s definitely not him. … Honestly, I think they had no idea it was going to be such a huge hit.

Marina Hyde contends that TV channels like BBC and ITV would have done a better job disguising the appearance of “Darrien” for the show. Some may wonder whether more could've been done on the streamer's part to prevent such a situation from happening. On that front, Richard Osman stated that execs may not have known that the 2024 Netflix series would become a massive hit.

For his part, Richard Gadd has tried to conceal identities. He previously said in GQ that for the character of Martha, the team went to great lengths to make sure actress Jessica Gunning’s character looked nothing like the real-life person. All the more reason why it may have been surprising that the alleged Baby Reindeer stalker spoke out about the show. It was also reported that the alleged stalker and the character you see on the show bear a striking resemblance.

Time well tell what becomes of this situation of misidentification regarding Richard Gadd's alleged abuser. What should be mentioned, though, is that Gadd said on his Instagram Stories (via Deadline) that he does not advocate Internet speculation, as innocent real-life people could get hurt by this.

You can stream Baby Reindeer, which remains a major title on the 2024 TV schedule, using a Netflix subscription.