Richard Gadd in 'Baby Reindeer'
(Netflix)

How Long Did Richard Gadd Wait To Tell His Story in ‘Baby Reindeer?’

Netflix’s sleeper hit Baby Reindeer gives viewers a vague timeline of events when telling the unbelievable true story of comedian Donny Dunn (Richard Gadd) and his stalker, Martha (Jessica Gunning). But when did the incident take place in real life?

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After dominating the streaming charts for just shy of a month, Netflix’s dark comedy Baby Reindeer has officially been dethroned by Jeff Daniels’ new series, A Man in Full. Still, Baby Reindeer had a seriously impressive run in the No. 1 spot, bringing its cast—particularly its writer/star/producer, Gadd—into the limelight with a gripping tale of love, suspense, and drama.

Baby Reindeer follows down-on-his-luck comedian Donny Dunn (a fictionalized version of Gadd himself) over the course of five years as he becomes the victim of a serial stalker named Martha. The two initially meet at the pub Donny works at, and a simple act of kindness—giving Martha a free cup of tea—quickly spirals into flat-out obsession when Martha begins following Donny home, showing up unprompted at his gigs, and sending him raunchy emails, among other things.

Eventually, Martha turns dangerously possessive and starts to meddle in Donny’s personal life, threatening his parents, his ex-girlfriend, and even his prospective love interest, Teri (Nava Mau). However, when Donny seeks out the police for help, they turn him away, citing a lack of evidence—despite Martha having a criminal record of stalking and harassment. Understandably, the whole situation takes a toll on Donny’s mental health, made even worse by his personal struggles with sexuality, identity, self-blame, and trauma at the hands of a successful TV writer.

Ultimately, Martha is sent to prison on three counts of stalking and harassment, though it’s hard to say if the real-life “Martha” suffered a similar fate. Although Gadd himself has never publicly confirmed her identity, a women claiming to be the inspiration behind the character has since stepped forward after internet sleuths tried to unearth her identity despite Gadd’s wishes and belief that she’s mentally unwell. bashing the Netflix miniseries and denying that it’s true.

Regardless, Gadd knew this was a story worth telling, and made art out of his seriously disturbing experience by turning the incident into a one-man show. Also titled Baby Reindeer, the play opened at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019 and was picked up by Netflix around 2022 ,before being adapted to the small screen in April 2024. So when did the real-life events that laid the foundation for the Baby Reindeer TV show take place?

Baby Reindeer timeline, explained

A review published by The Guardian, following the Baby Reindeer play’s opening in 2019, claims that Donny first met Martha in 2013, as he said the events took place “six years ago” at the time. The ensuing chaos—a.k.a., Martha’s thousands of emails, Facebook messages, and tweets—occurred throughout the next four or so years, putting her trial around 2017 or 2018. Given that Gadd told the outlet that he considered the issue to be resolved by 2019, this seems to imply that he hasn’t been in contact with “Martha” since, similar to the timing of the Netflix show.

Although the timeline of Baby Reindeer is a bit spotty—especially in the Netflix series—the only thing that really matters is that Gadd seems to have gotten a sense of closure from the whole thing.


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Author
Amanda Landwehr
Amanda is a Los Angeles-based entertainment writer who lives and breathes Star Wars, Marvel, and all things pop culture. She has worked in digital media since 2021, covering the latest movie/TV releases, casting updates, fan theories, and so, so much more. When she's not rotting away behind her laptop screen, you can typically catch Amanda maxing out her AMC Stubs membership.