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Baby Reindeer star Richard Gadd reveals family's reaction to real-life stalker drama

The Scottish comedian's stalking ordeal is depicted in the Netflix series

Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
15 April 2024
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Baby Reindeer star Richard Gadd shared his family and friends' reaction to his new Netflix show, which is based on the comedian's real-life stalking ordeal

For those who have yet to watch the seven-part dark comedy, it follows struggling comedian Donny Dunn, played by Richard, who is relentlessly stalked by a middle-aged woman named Martha (Jessica Gunning). The series also delves into Donny's past traumas, which are inspired by Richard's own experience of sexual abuse. 

WATCH: Have you watched Baby Reindeer yet?

Ahead of the series, Richard appeared on a Q&A panel, where he was asked how his loved ones have responded to him taking his trauma to the small screen in the form of a Netflix show. 

"I think people are used to it from me by now," Richard told HELLO! and other press. "My parents have always been bizarrely supportive of everything I've ever done. They're incredible. I think the greatest gift you can give your child is to not tell them 'no' when it comes to wanting to be what they want to be. 

Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer© Ed Miller/Netflix
Richard Gadd stars in Baby Reindeer

"They've always been supportive and I've got an amazing group of friends in my life, who I adore. I have amazing charities that I work for as well," he continued, referencing SurvivorsUK, who provide support for male and non-binary survivors of sexual violence, and helped Richard "phenomenally". He also credited the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a charity that helps stalking victims.

"So I do have a close group in my life, who have always been supportive," he added. 

Richard, who adapted the series from his acclaimed one-man stage play, also spoke about the mental toll of creating a drama based on his real-life experiences. "It was tough," he said. "It was difficult but therein lies, hopefully, a catharsis. 

Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer© Netflix
The series is based on Richard's real-life stalking ordeal

"I've been through this stuff before," he continued. "I've done live shows where it was tough to get on stage and write those things. Usually, it comes down to how the work is received in its aftermath when people appreciate it and come up to you and say, 'I was affected by that'. You start to feel like it's ok to have been through these things. You hope that catharsis is still to come. 

"There were tough days and days that have stayed with me but you just have to hope it helps people on a wider scale," he added. 

Baby Reindeer's Martha is played by Jessica Gunning
Baby Reindeer's Martha is played by Jessica Gunning

The synopsis reads: "Baby Reindeer follows struggling comedian Donny Dunn's warped relationship with his female stalker and the impact it has on him as he is ultimately forced to face a deeply buried trauma."

Baby Reindeer: Martha's obsession in numbers

Richard Gadd as Donny Dunn and Jessica Gunning as Martha in Baby Reindeer© Ed Miller/Netflix
Richard Gadd as Donny Dunn and Jessica Gunning as Martha in Baby Reindeer

Richard Gadd has been vocal about his stalker, named 'Martha' in the show, and just how many messages, voicemails,  tweets and emails he received from her before contact was cut off. It included: 

  • 41,000 emails 
  • 744 tweets
  • 100 pages of letters
  • 350 hours of voicemails 

In an essay penned for Netflix, Richard explained that his stalking ordeal began at the height of his career, having won the Edinburgh Comedy Award for his play Monkey See Monkey Do, which tackled the sexual abuse he experienced when he first started in the industry. 

Richard Gadd originally wrote the show as a one man play
Richard said his family have always been supportive of his projects

"But any good feeling in the Fringe's aftermath was tempered by my phone ringing every single minute of every day where I was met with a whole gamut of Martha's emotions from hurled insults to deep expressions of love and longing," he explained, adding: "It was too much for anyone to bear."

On adapting his story for Netflix, he continued: "I would be lying if I said I was not back exactly where I was all those years ago in 2019 at the Edinburgh Fringe. Fearing the worst. Praying for the best. Hoping that in amongst all the messy, complicated, fucked up, themes Baby Reindeer throws at you that people might take notice of its beating heart."

Baby Reindeer is available on Netflix.

Anyone affected by Richard's story or themes mentioned in this article can find support by contacting Victim Support or the National Stalking Helpline.

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