Richard Gadd says Baby Reindeer crew cried while filming traumatic fourth episode

Netflix drama based on writer-actor’s real-life experiences of stalking and sexual abuse

Shahana Yasmin
Thursday 09 May 2024 06:32 BST
Baby Reindeer trailer

Baby Reindeer creator Richard Gadd has said filming the drama’s fourth episode was hard not just for him but for the entire crew.

Speaking at the DGA Theater Complex for Netflix’s FYC screening and panel for the limited series on Tuesday night, along with actors Jessica Gunning and Nava Mau, director Weronika Tofilska, and editor Peter Oliver, Gadd described going into an “obsessive place” while writing the series and the toll filming his sexual assault took on him and the crew.

“We did close the set, but I was looking over and you’d see the props guys wiping tears from their eyes as they would be putting the props back how they should be,” Gadd recalled about filming episode 4, which features a graphic portrayal of sexual violence as Donny is groomed and later abused by an older and successful TV writer he meets at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

“The show was based in such a trauma that everyone on set felt at times it was a huge, weighty thing. And it’s why I think everyone had such respect for everything. I was blessed with this amazing team who kind of felt it with me in a lot of ways.”

“I never wanted to kind of lie,” he said about writing the series.

“I always had to constantly check myself to be like, ‘Does this feel truthful to me to my experience all the way through?’ And if it didn’t, I would have to bring it back.”

Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning in Baby Reindeer
Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning in Baby Reindeer (Netflix)

Gadd, 34, himself stars in the Netflix series which is based on his real-life experiences of stalking and sexual abuse.

Baby Reindeer follows struggling comic Donny Dunn, played by Gadd, as he is relentlessly harassed and stalked by Martha Scott, played by Jessica Gunning, for four and a half years.

A subplot sees Dunn groomed and raped by an older man called Darrian, played by Tom Goodman-Hill, who works in the comedy industry. Similar events happened to Gadd in real life which became the subject of the fourth episode.

Since the seven-episode show’s release on 11 April, it has become a word-of-mouth sensation, shooting to the top of the streaming service’s most-watched charts with very little promotion.

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Netflix has now submitted Baby Reindeer to the Emmy Awards for consideration as the best limited series and Gadd as the best actor and the best writer.

Gadd previously talked about the charity We Are Survivors and thanked them for supporting him through the years.

“Sometimes I speak to male survivors, and I’m not an advice giver or a professional, but the first advice is: break the silence. Talk to someone, and if that’s too scary, just write it down, process it into something. Because I think the more you get it out, the smaller it becomes,” he told The Guardian.

At the panel, Gunning again brought up the charity, which works with male and nonbinary sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation survivors across Greater Manchester, saying it had seen a 200 percent increase in people looking for support, with 60 per cent saying Baby Reindeer was the reason behind them getting in touch.

“It’s not an easy, buttoned-up story,” Gunning said.

“Everything doesn’t get tied up at the end. I think it’s messy, like life is. Their dynamic is complicated and he’s really honest about that. That’s so refreshing to see. The response to it is shown that audiences are really hungry for that. Hungry for honest, messy storytelling.”

Jessica Gunning as Martha in Netflix drama ‘Baby Reindeer'
Jessica Gunning as Martha in Netflix drama ‘Baby Reindeer' (Netflix)

Many have praised Gunning’s sensitive portrayal of Scott, including The Independent’s chief TV critic Nick Hilton, who said in his four-star review of the show: “Gunning’s performance as Martha adds another layer of ambiguity: at times she is vicious, at times she is vulnerable, but she’s always a compelling presence in his life and on screen.”

Baby Reindeer is streaming now on Netflix.

Rape Crisis offers support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland, or visit their website at

If you are in the US, you can call Rainn on 800-656-HOPE (4673).

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