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Who was the real Martha in 'Baby Reindeer', and where is she now?

Here's what Richard Gadd has shared about his actual stalker, fictionalized for the Netflix series.
Baby Reindeer
Jessica Gunning plays Martha in "Baby Reindeer."Ed Miller / Netflix

If you've binge-watched Netflix's based-on-a-true-story hit, "Baby Reindeer," you're likely haunted by one lingering question: Who was the inspiration for Martha, creator Richard Gadd's stalker in the show, and what happened to the real woman?

The series is based off the Scottish comedian's actual experiences with stalking. However, the show is fictionalized for "legal and artistic reasons," Gadd told Forbes, though it's all "100% emotionally true."

"There’s certain protections, you can’t just continued somebody else’s life and name and put it onto television,” he continued to Forbes. “And obviously, we were very aware that some characters in it are vulnerable people, so you don’t want to make their lives more difficult. So you have to change things to protect yourself and protect other people.”

Here’s what Gadd has shared about the real person Martha is based on.

Who is Martha in 'Baby Reindeer'?

In "Baby Reindeer," Gadd plays a man named Donny Dunn. One day, a stranger named Martha comes, played by Jessica Gunning, comes into the bar where Donny's working.

A kind-hearted bartender, Donny gives her a free drink since she's visibly distraught. From there, Martha misinterprets his kindness as romantic interest and begins to show up everywhere, both in person and online.

Martha visits Donny at the bar, attends his comedy shows and emails him constantly. She also develops a nickname for Donny: "baby reindeer."

Baby Reindeer
Donny and Martha in "Baby Reindeer."Ed Miller / Netflix

Playful flirting soon turns into scary stalking. Martha becomes possessive of Donny, despite the fact that they are not actually dating, and Donny is pursuing a relationship with someone else, Teri (Nava Mau). She becomes suspicious of any woman he interacts with and sends him many sexually explicit messages.

Martha also waits for Donny at the bus stop outside of his house and has violent outbursts on several occasions.

What happens to Martha in 'Baby Reindeer' on Netflix?

After fending off Martha's unwanted advances for several months, Donny reports her to the police. They're skeptical that she's truly a danger at first.

Later on, Donny reports Martha to the police again and plays one of her threatening voicemails. Martha is arrested and pleads guilty. She's then sentenced to nine months in prison. Meanwhile, Donny is granted a five-year restraining order against her.

Baby Reindeer
Martha has several violent outbursts in the show then immediately switches back to her positive self.Ed Miller / Netflix

Who was Gadd's real stalker?

Gadd has declined to provide a name for his real-life stalker. However, he described her as “quite an idiosyncratic person” in an interview with GQ.

“We’ve gone to such great lengths to disguise her to the point that I don’t think she would recognize herself. What’s been borrowed is an emotional truth, not a fact-by-fact profile of someone,” he said.

.While speaking with Variety, Gadd explained how he cast Gunning as Martha.

"What I needed to see was the essence of the person, the kind of energy, and no one did it like Jess (Gunning). She’s phenomenal. I needed to see someone who was vulnerable one moment, angry the next, volatile but so desperate and sympathetic. I needed to see someone who could capture a full gamut of emotions," he said.

During an ITV interview with Lorraine Kelly, Gadd explained why Gunning was a perfect fit for the role and said she always brings an "amazing nuance" to each of her roles. Meanwhile, Gunning revealed what drew her to the role of Martha.

"I kind of fell in love with Martha and Donny and their storyline. I kind of saw it as almost an unconventional love story, in a way — from her point of view anyway," she said.

What happened to the real Martha?

Gadd has shed a bit of light on what happened to his stalker.

While talking with Variety, the comedian said he wasn't worried about being contacted by the real Martha: "Due to where things ended in real life, it’s not a concern for me."

In an article from The Times, Gadd described the situation as being "resolved." The article suggests she didn't go to jail, and he “didn’t want to throw someone who was that level of mentally unwell in prison."

As in the show, Gadd pressed charges against his real stalker. He discussed the process with GQ.

"I do think the institution needs improvement, especially around stalking. I can think of numerous examples where people have complained to the police about a stalker but because maybe they’ve had a previous relationship the police haven’t taken it seriously. They can look for a concrete reason to arrest… but sometimes situations are more nuanced than that," he said.

"The first thing the police should do is try to preserve the safety of the person who is making the report rather than going through a long, arduous process to work out whether they should believe them or not," he continued.