Alleged Real-Life Stalker From ‘Baby Reindeer’ Pursuing Legal Action

Alleged Real-Life Stalker From ‘Baby Reindeer’ Pursuing Legal Action
Image: Jessica Gunning as Martha in 'Baby Reindeer'. Source: Netflix

The real-life counterpart of the stalker from queer Netflix series Baby Reindeer is threatening legal action after a Netflix executive said the show was based on a “convicted stalker.” 

Fiona Harvey is believed to be the woman who inspired Richard Gadd’s Baby Reindeer, a show based on his own experiences with a real-life stalker as an aspiring bisexual comedian. 

Though Gadd went to great lengths to obscure the real Martha’s identity, the internet scoured for her real-life counterpart; Fiona Harvey identified herself after people discovered her, and announced plans to sue Gadd and Netflix for labelling her show counterpart a “convicted stalker.” 

Meanwhile, Netflix UK & Ireland senior director of public policy Benjamin King also labelled ‘Martha’/Harvey as a convicted stalker in the House of Commons Culture in UK Parliament to John Nicolson MP, despite the fact no court records have been found. 

King was quoted as saying: “We did take every reasonable precaution in disguising the real life identities of the people whilst striking a balance with the veracity and authenticity of [the] story.” 

Lawsuit against Richard Gadd and Netflix

Now, Harvey has announced her intent to pursue further legal action against Netflix, warning that she is assembling a legal team following damage to her health, wellbeing and job prospects as a result of her identification. 

She said: “I have no doubt that the character of ‘Martha’ in Baby Reindeer was intended to be a portrayal of me. The problem for Richard Gadd and now for Netflix is that Baby Reindeer is not a true story at all. 

“I am not a ‘convicted stalker.’ I have never been charged with any crime, let alone been convicted, still less pleaded guilty and of course I have never been to prison for anything. This is how Gadd and Netflix chose to portray me in a TV show, for their own financial gain.”

Harvey appeared on Piers Morgan Uncensored after identifying herself and confirmed that she did meet Gadd, but vehemently denied other events depicted in the show like looking in through Gadd’s window, heckling his show or attacking his girlfriend. 

What is Baby Reindeer about?

Disclaimer: Discussion of sexual assault below.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the Netflix show, Baby Reindeer follows struggling comedian Donny Dunn (a fictionalised version of Richard Gadd) after he gives a distraught pub customer, Martha, a free cup of tea. From there, intense stalking begins. 

The show was critically acclaimed upon release, with particular attention given to the presence of queerness and sexuality in the show. 

A scene in episode 4 where Donny is sexually assaulted by a media veteran at Edinburgh Fringe Festival reverberates through the entire show, reflecting how men’s sexualities are affected by assault, grooming and stalking. 

Many praised the series for how it handled this scene; LGBTQI+ consultant Jeffery Ingold labelled the scene as significant and unflinching, given so few mainstream TV shows depict sexual assault of gay and bi men, who it’s clearly struck a chord with.  

However, NPR’s Glen Weldon and Guy Branum were less enthused by the show’s take on queer sexuality, thinking that Donny’s queerness was handled in a “clumsy, lazy way” that he felt conflated abuse with queer sexuality, though called it an interesting, albeit messy show.

All 7 episodes of Baby Reindeer are available to stream on Netflix.

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