Baby Reindeer viewers stunned after learning real-life stalking victim is show’s star

Comedian Richard Gadd wrote and starred in show about his own stalking experience

Ellie Muir
Wednesday 24 April 2024 06:56 BST
Baby Reindeer trailer

Netflix viewers have been left stunned after learning that Baby Reindeer star Richard Gadd is the real-life stalking victim depicted in the series.

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

Martha arrives at the pub Donny works at and he takes pity on her by giving her a free cup of tea, and from then on, she clings to him, invades his personal life, and sends him a flurry of emails each day. She eventually starts turning up at his workplace each day, lurks outside – and inside – his home and turns up at his comedy gigs.

After watching the first episode, viewers were shocked to find out that Baby Reindeer is based on the real-life experiences of actor Gadd.

Baby Reindeer is insane but the fact that 1) it’s a true story 2) the main actor is the actual victim of the true story in real life makes it that much CRAZIER,” wrote one viewer on X/Twitter.

“I am speechless,” said another. “The fact it’s a true story AND the lead actor was the victim of the true story. Wow.”

Richard Gadd as Donny Dunn in ‘Baby Reindeer’
Richard Gadd as Donny Dunn in ‘Baby Reindeer’ (Netflix)

Another praised Gadd for his portrayal of his experiences, writing: “Imagine taking the worst period of life and making it into a masterpiece, then reliving it by acting as the main lead.”

In The Independent’s four-star review of the series, Nick Hilton writes that Baby Reindeer “is a visceral testimony to the psychological torment that Gadd experienced”.

“This is twisty, mature, self-interrogating stuff that will leave you more troubled than tickled.”

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

Viewers have been in awe of Gadd’s complex portrayal of abuse, sexual violence and the ways that male victims of harassment can be overlooked.

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One viewer called it a “masterpiece” writing: “How Richard Gadd confronts his trauma, processes it and puts it out into the world with such unflinching honesty is nothing short of game-changing. And to then act as the lead as well, revisiting it firsthand? Loved it dearly.”

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything as gut-wrenching as #BabyReindeer in a while,” said another viewer on X/Twitter. “It’s a perfect story about how healing is not linear and how running away from your trauma causes you to find comfort in all of the wrong places. 10/10.”

In an interview with The Independent, Gadd said he felt like public services were at crisis point, having learnt first-hand what it was like trying to report a stalking case to the police.

“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 said.

Gadd added that his dealings with his stalker are over now. “I suppose the situation, shall we say, my dealings with the person who stalked me is certainly over,” he said. “The emotional ramifications do live on.”

Baby Reindeer is now streaming on Netflix.

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