The True Story Behind “Baby Reindeer”: Where Is Martha Now?

Richard Gadd plays a fictionalized version of himself in Netflix’s ‘Baby Reindeer,’ which tells the true story of his stalker

<p>Ed Miller/Netflix</p> Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning in

Ed Miller/Netflix

Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning in 'Baby Reindeer.'

Baby Reindeer may be fictionalized, but it is based on the true events that happened in creator Richard Gadd’s life.

The comedian plays a version of himself named Donny Dunn in the show and recounts his experience of being stalked by a middle-aged woman he calls Martha. Though he changed some events “slightly to create dramatic climaxes,” he told The Guardian in April 2024, the story is resoundingly true.

“It’s very emotionally true, obviously: I was severely stalked and severely abused,” he said. “But we wanted it to exist in the sphere of art, as well as protect the people it’s based on.”

Gadd also touches on his experience of being raped and groomed by an older, successful TV writer in the show and his struggles with self-blame following the events.

Though Gadd tried to protect the identity of his stalker, a Scottish lawyer named Fiona Harvey spoke out after the series became an international hit and claimed to be the woman who inspired Martha. During an interview with Piers Morgan, she announced her intentions to sue Gadd and Netflix, claiming that the show is "complete nonsense."

Here’s everything to know about the true story behind Baby Reindeer — and what happened to Martha’s character in real life.

Who is Donny Dunn in Baby Reindeer?

<p>Ed Miller/Netflix</p> Richard Gadd in 'Baby Reindeer.'

Ed Miller/Netflix

Richard Gadd in 'Baby Reindeer.'

Donny Dunn is played by and based on Gadd, a Scottish comedian who started his career doing stand-up comedy. His stand-up show, Monkey See Monkey Do, won the Edinburgh comedy award when he performed it in 2016. The show was based on Gadd’s experiences of being groomed, raped and assaulted by an older man who manipulated him early in his career.

While the show wasn’t necessarily funny, it moved audiences. The performance led to more success for Gadd who then wrote his one-man play, Baby Reindeer in 2019. Gadd later adapted Baby Reindeer into a television series, which was released on Netflix in April 2024 and immediately topped the streamer's charts.

“It’s clearly struck a chord,” he told The Guardian. “I really did believe in it, but it’s taken off so quickly that I do feel a bit windswept.”

Now, he’s working on writing a six-part drama for the BBC called Lions.

Is Baby Reindeer a true story?

<p>Ed Miller/Netflix</p> Richard Gadd in 'Baby Reindeer.'

Ed Miller/Netflix

Richard Gadd in 'Baby Reindeer.'

Baby Reindeer is based on the real events that happened in Gadd’s life. In 2015, a woman began stalking Gadd. In the show, Gadd’s character Donny meets the woman, Martha, as he’s working at a bar, and she strikes up a conversation with him. The same happened in real life: the real woman walked into a pub and said she couldn’t afford a drink — so Gadd offered her one on the house.

She went on to obtain his email and stalked him for four years, calling him “Baby Reindeer.” Over the course of that time, Gadd received 41,071 emails, 350 hours of voicemail, 744 tweets, 46 Facebook messages and 106 pages of letters from her.

“At first everyone at the pub thought it was funny that I had an admirer,” Gadd told The Times in April 2024. “Then she started to invade my life, following me, turning up at my gigs, waiting outside my house, sending thousands of voicemails and emails.”

Though he went to the police about the situation, the authorities weren't much help. Gadd said they found it unfathomable that a man could be getting stalked when the situation is stereotypically the other way around.

“When a man gets stalked it can be portrayed in films and television as a sexy thing,” he told The Times. “Like a femme fatale who gradually becomes more sinister. It doesn’t carry as much threat of physical violence, is less common and can be trivialized.”

He continued, “I was physically scared because I didn’t know how far she could take it, she could have a knife, but I did think how terrifying it would be if she was a tall scary man.”

However, taking the story to the stage — and eventually to the small screen — was healing for Gadd.

“I couldn’t keep it all in any more. Making shows about it was all I had,” he told the outlet. “I was shell-shocked, but by performing it you gain ownership. When you keep it inside for so long it becomes gigantic and insurmountable, but through performance, you can somehow go outside yourself, observe and process it.”

Who is the real Martha?

<p>Ed Miller/Netflix</p> Jessica Gunning as Martha in 'Baby Reindeer.'

Ed Miller/Netflix

Jessica Gunning as Martha in 'Baby Reindeer.'

Gadd has never publicly stated Martha’s real name or identity in an effort to protect her. Though she harassed him for over four years, Gadd said he still has a certain level of sympathy for her as a mentally ill person.

He told GQ in April 2024 that in order to cover her identity, he changed certain aspects of her character so no one could identify who she was.

“We’ve gone to such great lengths to disguise her to the point that I don’t think she would recognize herself,” he said. “What’s been borrowed is an emotional truth, not a fact-by-fact profile of someone.”

Despite his attempts to hide his stalker's identity, internet sleuths said that they thought Fiona Harvey was the real-life Martha and sent her "death threats," according to the Daily Mail.

Harvey also confirmed to the outlet that multiple details of her and Martha's identity are the same: they're both Scottish, studied law, are 20 years older than Gadd and used sensual language in their writing.

However, one difference between Martha and herself, she said, was that she never called Gadd by the nickname "baby reindeer," which in the show comes from a toy Martha had growing up that reminds her of Gadd.

"I've never owned a toy baby reindeer and I wouldn't have had any conversation with Richard Gadd about a childhood toy either," she said.

What happens to Martha in Baby Reindeer on Netflix?

In the show, Martha is sentenced to nine months in prison and a five-year restraining order after she leaves a threatening voicemail on Donny’s phone that makes him fear for his family.

He attends her hearing where Martha pleads guilty to all counts she was charged with and begins to cry. When he leaves, Donny feels sorry for her, he says in his narration.

The court hearing is the last time he saw her in the show.

What happened to Martha in real life?

<p>Ed Miller/Netflix</p> Jessica Gunning as Martha in 'Baby Reindeer.'

Ed Miller/Netflix

Jessica Gunning as Martha in 'Baby Reindeer.'

In real life, Gadd hasn’t made it clear whether the real Martha is serving time, though he says the situation has been handled.

“It is resolved,” he told The Times. “I had mixed feelings about it — I didn’t want to throw someone who was that level of mentally unwell in prison.”

However, he did eventually prove to the police that he was being harassed by recording all her messages when she was threatening him or people around him.

Overall, Gadd found his experience with the police to be unhelpful, and he was left feeling “let down,” he told The Independent in April 2024.

“Going through the police process on [the stalking case], I really did feel quite confronted with just how kind of how much lack of resources there seemed to be – how the police have been gutted,” he told the outlet, adding that he was also alarmed at the lack of help that was provided to his stalker.

Though the stalking has come to an end, Gadd said the “emotional ramifications” continue to “live on” in him.

According to the Daily Mail, Harvey currently lives alone in a council flat in London on a food budget of 30 pounds a week.

In May 2024, Harvey appeared on Piers Morgan Uncensored, where she denied stalking Gadd and called him "psychotic." She added: "If somebody was sending somebody 41,000 emails or something, they'd be doing how many a day? Lots. None of that's true. I don't think I sent him anything … No, I think there may have been a couple of emails exchanged, but that was it. Just jokey banter emails."

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.

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