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Baby Reindeer's Richard Gadd speaks out amid speculation over 'real life' Martha and Darrien

The Netflix series is based on Richard's real-life experiences of stalking and abuse

Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
23 April 2024
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Baby Reindeer star Richard Gadd has spoken out about fan speculation over the real-life people who inspired the characters of Martha and Darrien in his Netflix series. 

The new show is based on Richard's real stalking ordeal, as well as the sexual abuse he experienced when he first started in the comedy industry. 

Since the show premiered on the streaming platform earlier this month, viewers have been attempting to uncover the real identities of both Martha (played by Jessica Gunning) and Darrien (played by Tom Goodman-Hill), and have taken to social media with their theories. 

Richard Gadd's Instagram statement© @mrrichardgadd/Instagram
Richard Gadd urged fans to stop speculating over the real people behind characters in Baby Reindeer

On Monday evening, Richard shared a message on his Instagram Story, urging viewers to stop speculation, adding that people he "loves" and "admires" have been caught up in the rumours. 

"People I love, have worked with, and admire (including Sean Foley) are unfairly getting caught up in speculation," penned the 34-year-old.

"Please don't speculate on who the real-life people could be. That’s not the point of our show."

Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer© Ed Miller/Netflix
Baby Reindeer is based on Richard's real experience of stalking and abuse

For those who have yet to watch the drama, which is currently Netflix's number one show, it follows struggling comedian Donny Dunn, who gives a troubled woman named Martha a cup of tea for free during a pub shift. This kind gesture sparks a years-long obsession as Martha begins to relentlessly stalk Donny, forcing him to confront a buried trauma. 

The seven-parter is an adaptation of Richard's one-man stage play, which debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019 and earned him a Stage Award for Acting Excellence and the Scotsman Fringe First Award. 

Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer© Ed Miller/Netflix
Richard Gadd stars as Donny Dunn in the series

Speaking to HELLO! and other press ahead of the show's premiere, Richard emphasised the importance of reflecting his true experience of stalking on the small screen. 

Explaining that he often sees stalking portrayed with a "femme fatale trope"  in films and TV, Richard said: "That wasn't what this was like.

Jessica Gunning as Martha in Baby Reindeer© Ed Miller/Netflix
Jessica Gunning plays Martha

"Stalking is a severe mental illness and a sort of fantasy addiction when this person genuinely believes that this other person is fundamentally the answer to their problems and nothing you can say or do will get them out of that.

"I saw a very vulnerable person that needed help and that's the truth I wanted to bring to screen," he added.

Tom Goodman-Hill as Darrien in Baby Reindeer
Tom Goodman-Hill plays Darrien

Richard's stalking ordeal began back in 2015 when a woman walked into a London pub he worked at and he offered her a free cup of tea. For three years, she carried out a campaign of stalking and harassment, sending 40,000 emails, 350 hours of voicemail, and 100 pages of letters. 

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 

Richard eventually managed to get a restraining order taken out against her, but during an interview with The Guardian in 2019, revealed that his stalker had subjected his family and friends to harassment. 

Baby Reindeer is available to stream on Netflix. 

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

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