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Explained: 'Baby Reindeer' Real-Life Martha Scott to Sue Netflix for Defamation

A 58-year-old Scottish woman has been widely identified as the stalker from Richard Gadd's show, 'Baby Reindeer.'

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The controversy surrounding the Netflix biographical series Baby Reindeer is likely to persist, as a woman "identified" as the real-life inspiration behind Martha Scott, has come forward considering legal action against the show and the streaming giant for defamation.

The series, written by and starring comedian Richard Gadd, premiered on Netflix on 11 April and follows the story of struggling comic Donny Dunn (Gadd) as he is intensely harassed and stalked by Martha (Jessica Gunning) for over four years.

Despite its initial lack of fanfare and promotion, Baby Reindeer quickly rose to the top of Netflix's most-watched charts in the UK and US, as it piqued viewers' interest to discover the real-life inspirations behind its controversial characters.

What is the controversy surrounding Baby Reindeer? Who is the woman claimed to be the real-life Martha? And what are her allegations against the show? We explain.

Explained: 'Baby Reindeer' Real-Life Martha Scott to Sue Netflix for Defamation

  1. 1. Real-life Martha's allegations against the show

    According to a report by The Scottish Sun, a 58-year-old Scottish woman named Fiona Harvey, identified as the inspiration behind Martha Scott, has alleged that Gadd's portrayal of her as an obsessive stalker in Baby Reindeer is 'inaccurate and damaging.'

    She also asserted that Gadd himself is 'obsessed' with her and is perpetuating harassment against her using the show. "He’s using Baby Reindeer to stalk me now. I’m the victim. He’s written a bloody show about me," Harvey said in an interview with Daily Mail.

    Despite Gadd's denial of disguising the character's inspiration, Harvey claims that the parallels are evident and have led to death threats being targeted against her.

    As per the report, the woman also claimed that she is not the real-life inspiration behind Martha and has never even owned a baby reindeer toy. In the show, when Martha reveals the backstory of the term "baby reindeer," she says that it was actually the name of her stuffed animal toy she cherished as a child.

    Harvey, who is lawyer, added that viewers have targeted her online, believing her to be the character's real-life counterpart. Speaking about the actor in the show, she told Daily Mail, "She sort of looks like me after I put on four stone during lockdown but I’m not actually unattractive."

    She also revealed that she is planning to pursue legal action against Netflix for billing the series as a true story and "vowed" to represent herself in court.

    She has also accused Gadd of exploiting her story for "personal gain" and urged him to respect her privacy. Calling for accountability, she further asked the comedian to cease his involvement in her personal life.

    Expand
  2. 2. Real people being harassed over 'Baby Reindeer'

    The controversy surrounding Gadd's show erupted with its unprecedented success as more and more viewers desperately began seeking to determine the real-life stalker of the comedian.

    Many criticised the show's makers, questioning whether more safeguarding measures could have been enacted to prevent viewers from being able to identify them.

    In Baby Reindeer, Martha's harassment causes irreparable damage to Gadd's life and psyche, who was also grappling with past sexual assaults committed by his mentor, Darrien O'Connor (Tom Goodman-Hill).

    The show received heavy backlash, when armchair detectives started a accusing innocent people online for abusing Gadd. According to a report by The Guardian, in addition to Harvey, a man was also accused of being Gadd's real abuser and had to contact the police for help.

    In an interview with The Gaurdian, Harvey revealed that she has barely slept due to the stress and death threats she received from American fans of the show. She clarified that she has not watched the Baby Reindeer but knows about Gadd's Edinburgh Fringe Festival show, Monkey See, Monkey Do, which details his sexual abuse.

    "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,"
    she told the publication.
    Expand
  3. 3. The actors' response to the controversy

    Both Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning have urged fans to stop speculating about the "real" versions of Martha and Darrien. Taking to X, director Sean Foley also reposted a note Gadd wrote on Instagram, stating that people he admires and works with are unfairly getting involved in such speculation.

    “People I love, have worked with, and admire (including Sean Foley) are unfairly getting caught up in speculation. Please don’t speculate on who any of the real life people could be. That’s not the point of our show,” Gadd wrote on his Instagram stories, earlier this week.

    In an interview with Glamour, Gunning also expressed how she is appalled by the search for the identities of real people who hurt Gadd. She urged people not to search for these characters. Gunning also emphasized that the show's purpose is not to discover these people but to understand how sexual abuse and trauma can lead to deep psychological wounds.

    She further clarified that she's not playing a "real person" in her interpretation of Martha, but a character.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Real-life Martha's allegations against the show

According to a report by The Scottish Sun, a 58-year-old Scottish woman named Fiona Harvey, identified as the inspiration behind Martha Scott, has alleged that Gadd's portrayal of her as an obsessive stalker in Baby Reindeer is 'inaccurate and damaging.'

She also asserted that Gadd himself is 'obsessed' with her and is perpetuating harassment against her using the show. "He’s using Baby Reindeer to stalk me now. I’m the victim. He’s written a bloody show about me," Harvey said in an interview with Daily Mail.

Despite Gadd's denial of disguising the character's inspiration, Harvey claims that the parallels are evident and have led to death threats being targeted against her.

As per the report, the woman also claimed that she is not the real-life inspiration behind Martha and has never even owned a baby reindeer toy. In the show, when Martha reveals the backstory of the term "baby reindeer," she says that it was actually the name of her stuffed animal toy she cherished as a child.

Harvey, who is lawyer, added that viewers have targeted her online, believing her to be the character's real-life counterpart. Speaking about the actor in the show, she told Daily Mail, "She sort of looks like me after I put on four stone during lockdown but I’m not actually unattractive."

She also revealed that she is planning to pursue legal action against Netflix for billing the series as a true story and "vowed" to represent herself in court.

She has also accused Gadd of exploiting her story for "personal gain" and urged him to respect her privacy. Calling for accountability, she further asked the comedian to cease his involvement in her personal life.

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Real people being harassed over 'Baby Reindeer'

The controversy surrounding Gadd's show erupted with its unprecedented success as more and more viewers desperately began seeking to determine the real-life stalker of the comedian.

Many criticised the show's makers, questioning whether more safeguarding measures could have been enacted to prevent viewers from being able to identify them.

In Baby Reindeer, Martha's harassment causes irreparable damage to Gadd's life and psyche, who was also grappling with past sexual assaults committed by his mentor, Darrien O'Connor (Tom Goodman-Hill).

The show received heavy backlash, when armchair detectives started a accusing innocent people online for abusing Gadd. According to a report by The Guardian, in addition to Harvey, a man was also accused of being Gadd's real abuser and had to contact the police for help.

In an interview with The Gaurdian, Harvey revealed that she has barely slept due to the stress and death threats she received from American fans of the show. She clarified that she has not watched the Baby Reindeer but knows about Gadd's Edinburgh Fringe Festival show, Monkey See, Monkey Do, which details his sexual abuse.

"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,"
she told the publication.
0

The actors' response to the controversy

Both Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning have urged fans to stop speculating about the "real" versions of Martha and Darrien. Taking to X, director Sean Foley also reposted a note Gadd wrote on Instagram, stating that people he admires and works with are unfairly getting involved in such speculation.

“People I love, have worked with, and admire (including Sean Foley) are unfairly getting caught up in speculation. Please don’t speculate on who any of the real life people could be. That’s not the point of our show,” Gadd wrote on his Instagram stories, earlier this week.

In an interview with Glamour, Gunning also expressed how she is appalled by the search for the identities of real people who hurt Gadd. She urged people not to search for these characters. Gunning also emphasized that the show's purpose is not to discover these people but to understand how sexual abuse and trauma can lead to deep psychological wounds.

She further clarified that she's not playing a "real person" in her interpretation of Martha, but a character.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from explainers

Topics:  Netflix   Baby reindeer show 

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