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Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer© Ed Miller/Netflix

Baby Reindeer: The ultimate fact vs fiction guide

Your questions answered about Baby Reindeer

Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
May 3, 2024
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Baby Reindeer’s creator Richard Gadd has reached worldwide fame overnight as the star of the smash hit Netflix show, which has received critical acclaim with even author Stephen King calling it “one of the best things I’ve ever seen on television”. But with so much success comes the inevitable question- how much of it is based on true events? We have tried to separate the fact from the fiction here… 

Richard Gadd as Donny Dun in Baby Reindeer© Netflix

Is ‘Donny’ based on Richard Gadd?

Yes, the character of Donny is essentially Richard Gadd. In the show, Donny is a struggling comedian who works part-time in a pub while trying to make it big. He takes his stand-up routine to Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where he meets ‘Darrian’. This is all the same for Richard, who eventually won the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Monkey See Monkey Do, in which Richard discusses being sexually assaulted.

Chatting in a behind-the-scenes video with Netflix, Richard explained: “It's a true story, based on my early 20s when I went through some pretty crazy things… There's a flashback episode where we actually go back in time to Donny going to the Edinburgh Fringe and meeting someone in the industry who helps them in their career but goes on to abuse Donny and that's obviously taken from my real-life experiences.”

Darrien in Baby Reindeer © -

Is ‘Darrian’ a real person?

While Richard has changed the name and identity of the man who assaulted him, Richard Osman is among those who claim to know the identity the real-life, unnamed person. Speaking on the podcast The Rest is Entertainment, he said: “There's a very, very serious thing that happens with a male comedy producer and 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.

“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," he continued. "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 to 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.”

Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer© Ed Miller/Netflix

Did Richard really have a breakdown at a comedy gig?

It doesn’t appear that the heartbreaking monologue by Donny in episode six happened in real life, but Richard has borrowed from his 2012 stand-up routine for Donny’s jokes that receive a cool reception from the audience. At the Chortle Student Comedy Award in 2012, he jokes: “I know what you’re thinking. Venus Williams has let herself go.” However, unlike the show, Richard received plenty of laughs in real life.

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

Is ‘Martha’ a real person?

Richard based Martha on a real-life person who he encountered while working at the pub. After giving her a cup of tea on the house, she develops an obsession with him, sending him tens of thousands of emails, voicemails and over 100 pages of letters. Fans think that they also heard her distinctive laugh in a video of his earlier stand-up work. 

The real-life counterpart, who we will not be naming, has spoken to the press about the portrayal on the show, denying that she stalked Richard. She told the Daily Record: “I have not watched Baby Reindeer but I have seen various things. I was in Richard Gadd’s company on occasions but I didn’t stalk him like he claims. His story is that this is a gross intrusion into my privacy. I haven't seen him for 12 years.” Richard currently has a restraining order against the woman in question.

Baby Reindeer's Martha is played by Jessica Gunning

Did ‘Martha’ previously stalk a barrister?

In the show, Donny is shocked to learn that Martha has been arrested for stalking a barrister and their ‘deaf child’. In reality, Laura Wray, a lawyer, has come forward to share her experiences, revealing that she let go ‘Martha’ from her role at her law firm, only to receive countless voicemail messages, and a visit from the social services after ‘Martha’ reported that she was abusing her severely disabled son. 

She told the Daily Mail: “The social workers thankfully believed me but it was just dreadful, and I was absolutely furious. This is a child who couldn't walk or speak, couldn't do anything for himself. To think that someone could suggest we would do this [harm him] is vicious and cruel.”

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

Did ‘Martha’ go to prison?

Unlike the show, where Martha is sentenced to nine months in prison and the courtroom is the last time Donny claims to have seen her, she never received jail time in real life. Richard told The Times that he “didn't want to throw someone who was that level of mentally unwell in prison”.

Richard Gadd and Nava Mau in Baby Reindeer© Netflix

In the show, Donny has a glimmer of happiness after falling in love with an American transwoman named Teri, who helps him with Martha - but due to his own feelings of shame, he hides his real identity from Teri, and tries to keep their relationship hidden, saying: “I loved one thing in the world more than her - hating myself.” 

Teri was based on a real person, whom Richard spoke about fondly in the behind-the-scenes video. He said: “The real-life person always used to call me out on my s*** and I always used to find it confronting. My behaviour was irrational and so it was very important to have Teri be the voice of reason in the show.” The pair are no longer together.