18 Behind-The-Scenes Facts You Probably Didn't Know About The Making Of Baby Reindeer

Richard Gadd behind the scenes of his hit show Baby Reindeer
Richard Gadd behind the scenes of his hit show Baby Reindeer Ed Miller/Netflix

Baby Reindeer has quickly become the biggest word-of-mouth TV hit of the year so far, and it’s not hard to see why.

The Netflix miniseries depicts the complicated true story of creator Richard Gadd’s years-long ordeal with a female stalker.

He wrote and stars in the series as Donny alongside Jessica Gunning, who has won huge acclaim for her nuanced performance as stalker Martha.

Fans of the show have been shocked to discover just how much of the series is steeped in truth, but there are plenty more behind-the-scenes facts that make Baby Reindeer an even more incredible watch…

First of all, yes, Baby Reindeer is all based on a true story

Richard Gadd as Donny in Baby Reindeer
Richard Gadd as Donny in Baby Reindeer Ed Miller/Netflix

Undoubtedly one of the most shocking things about Baby Reindeer is that it’s all based on a real life stalking ordeal creator Richard Gadd endured for around four-and-a-half years of his life. 

Everything from Donny and Martha’s first meeting in the pub, her relentless texts and emails, and the darker chapters – including his sexual assault – are based on truth.

You can dive into all the true details behind the show in more detail here.

And those texts and email? They’re all real, too

Among the most disturbing details about the show is that all the emails Donny receives in the show are verbatim copies of the real correspondence.

Richard received a total of 40,000 emails, 740 social media posts and 350 hours’ worth of voicemails from his real stalker, and each email in the show is chillingly depicted word for word.

However, it’s important to note that not everything depicted in Baby Reindeer is a ‘carbon copy’ of real life

Richard and Jessica on the set of one of Donny and Martha's earlier meetings
Richard and Jessica on the set of one of Donny and Martha's earlier meetings Ed Miller/Netflix

While many details of the show are true to Richard Gadd’s own experiences, the writer has insisted that the show is not an exact recreation of people and events exactly as they happened.

“A lot of it is very true, and all of it is emotionally true,” he told Gay Times. “Obviously, we can’t carbon copy people and identities, for various artistic and legal reasons. But, it is certainly based in emotional truth and lots of the action you see in it happened for real.”

In particular, Richard Gadd wanted to ensure the identity of his real stalker was protected

Jessica Gunning in Netflix's Baby Reindeer
Jessica Gunning in Netflix's Baby Reindeer Ed Miller/Netflix

The subject of Richard’s real life stalker has inevitably intrigued fans after watching the show – to the point where he’s even pleaded with viewers not to speculate online.

He previously insisted that measures were taken to ensure her identity remained unknown.

“I honestly couldn’t speak as to whether she would watch it,” he told GQ. “Her reactions to things varied so much that I almost couldn’t predict how she’d react to anything. She was quite an idiosyncratic person.

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

Baby Reindeer started life as a one-man stage play

Before viewers were binge-watching Baby Reindeer on Netflix, Richard was performing a stage version of his story in a one-man Edinburgh Festival Fringe show in 2019.

In that version, Martha was represented by an empty bar stool. 

“It was me and a stool — Martha was a stool and I carried the stool around stage and I’d move her into different positions,” Richard told Variety.

“So to bring it from a 70-minute monologue into seven episodes, multiple characters, different strands and plot lines, it was a massive undertaking and a load of pressure.”

It later transferred to the West End and even won an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement In Affiliate Theatre.

Richard’s early stand-up comedy really was as bad as his on-screen counter-part’s

Donny on stage in Baby Reindeer
Donny on stage in Baby Reindeer Ed Miller/Netflix

Donny’s comedy routines in Baby Reindeer are… interesting, to say the least. Decked out in elaborate costumes and a suitcase of wacky props, the actor’s struggling comedy career forms the backdrop of the show. 

It turns out that his old stand-up performances really did resemble what we see in the screen. In an interview with the Guardian, he recalled the strange “juxtaposition” of his “tormenting” personal life, with his more mad-cap stage performances.

He added that, while audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe “love weird stuff”, those routines wouldn’t go down so well on the regular comedy circuit.

I’d perform on the comedy circuit 11 months out of the year, to silence, because people expect more stuff that they see on TV,” he explained.

“Especially if they pay a high ticket price, they want to see dependable, seasoned, veteran comedians, and there’s this guy who’s taping ears to his nose, and they’re thinking: ‘This isn’t what I paid for.’”

Speaking in a video feature for Netflix, he elaborated that “the stand-up in the earlier years was terrible”, adding that he was trying to do “a weird brand” of “anti-comedy”.

Richard was already a fan of Jessica Gunning’s work before she was cast as Martha

Richard said he always had Jessica in mind for the part of Martha, telling ITV’s Lorraine: “I’d always seen Jess in various different shows and always thought that every role you did, you brought this kind of amazing nuance to it – always elevated everything you were in.”

He added that it was “something about your essence on camera that made me think, ‘this is Martha, we have to get her in.’”

Jessica had an interesting approach when it came to the audition process

Jessica Gunning in character as Martha
Jessica Gunning in character as Martha Ed Miller/Netflix

In the lead-up to her audition, Jessica was leaving nothing up to chance.

“Usually I kind of leave it up to the universe – ‘If I’m right for this part, I’m right for this part,’” she told Vanity Fair. “But I had such a strong response [to the script].”

She even went so far as to have a makeup artist friend help age her appearance, so she could convince the show’s creators she could play an older character.

However, the two-decade age gap featured in the original Baby Reindeer play was eventually reduced by Netflix.

Jessica’s performance was so impressive Richard would find himself getting distracted on set

“To see Martha come alive through Jess’ performance, it was something to behold,” Richard shared in a Netflix video feature. “There were times on set when I was acting with her, I’d almost forget to say my line back, because I was too busy going, ‘Fucking hell she’s good’.”

He added that he “almost couldn’t believe how much she was channelling the real life person”.

It wasn’t exactly easy for Jessica to switch Martha off after a day of filming

Jessica Gunning behind the scenes of Baby Reindeer
Jessica Gunning behind the scenes of Baby Reindeer Ed Miller/Netflix

Jessica has revealed that bringing Martha to life wasn’t without its challenges..

“I always used to roll my eyes slightly when actors said ‘Oh god, it took me a week to say goodbye,’ but because this is obviously based on a true story, and I know Richard now, I wanted to do the part justice so much I think I was constantly with her all the time in my head,” she told Metro.

“Even when there were days I wasn’t in, I was thinking of Martha and the story, just wanting to do the best I could do,” Jessica added.

“In that aspect, I didn’t really let go of her until we finished filming. I couldn’t really put her to bed.”

Martha’s email address also contains a hidden reference to a classic show

Richard Gadd as Donny in Baby Reindeer
Richard Gadd as Donny in Baby Reindeer Netflix

All of Martha’s emails on the show come from an address resembling a spam account, but the seemingly scrambled sequence is not random at all.

Journalist (and Lost superfan) Jacob Stolworthy pointed out on X that those numbers are in fact the infamous cursed numbers from Lost.

One scene shares a key filming location with another of Jessica Cunningham’s biggest projects

Nava Mau on location in the Royal Vauxhall Tavern
Nava Mau on location in the Royal Vauxhall Tavern Ed Miller/Netflix

While Donny initially tries to limit his dates with Teri to a dingy cocktail bar, she eventually coaxes him into a night out with her at London’s iconic LGBTQ+ venue the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

These scenes were filmed at the real RVT, which also served as a filming location in All Of Us Strangers starring Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal.

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern
The Royal Vauxhall Tavern Jamie Thistlethwaite via Getty Images

Funnily enough, the bar was previously used as a shooting location in another project Jessica Gunning appeared in – 2014’s Pride, about a group of gay activists who set out to help during the 1984 miners’ strike.

Other projects that have been shot at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in recent history include Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and Danny Boyle’s miniseries Pistol.

Richard Gadd has an interesting theory about one of the show’s most important scenes

Donny and Martha's first meeting as depicted in Baby Reindeer
Donny and Martha's first meeting as depicted in Baby Reindeer Ed Miller/Netflix

Donny is first introduced to Martha when she enters the pub where he works in tears. As a gesture of kindness, he gives Martha a cup of tea on the house. It’s the catalyst to the whole saga – but it’s never detailed why she was so upset in the first place.

Appearing on This Morning, host Cat Deeley asked Richard if he knew what prompted the real “Martha” to come into his pub so upset.

“No, but I questioned it all of the time,” he said, before sharing his own idea. “I wondered if it was the end of her stalking relationship with someone else and the start of it with me.”

Nava Mau actually learned ballet to play Teri

Nava Mau as Teri in Baby Reindeer
Nava Mau as Teri in Baby Reindeer Netflix

It turns out the cast of Baby Reindeer did not cut any corners with the show.

One brief scene in episode five shows Teri demonstrating her ballet skills to Donny in her apartment. Although it’s a fleeting moment for viewers, this choreography wasn’t just thrown together – Nava actually learned ballet.

Speaking to Gay Times, she shared: “Every single day on set, I was doing something I had never done before, whether that’s technical or emotional. I had to learn ballet!”

Baby Reindeer made use of an intimacy coordinator in to make sure everything was handled sensitively

The Baby Reindeer crew brought in the expertise of intimacy coordinator Elle McAlpine, who has previously worked on huge productions like the Oscar-winning Poor Things and Netflix’s One Day.

Nava Mau told GQ it was “really helpful to have a third person” brought into the show’s unique dynamic.

“She had some great little tips for some of the intimate scenes on how to perform them in a way that felt true and connected,” she added.

One scene in particular was ‘traumatic’ for everyone involved

Nava Mau has admitted one scene was particularly difficult for her
Nava Mau has admitted one scene was particularly difficult for her Netflix

There are plenty of moments in Baby Reindeer that make for difficult viewing, but one scene was especially challenging for the whole cast.

In episode three, Martha catches Donny and Teri on a date, which triggers her to confront and brutally attack Teri. Richard told Gay Times that this scene was “traumatic for everyone”, explaining: “I saw them do that fight scene, rolling around on the floor take after take.”

He added that Nava’s character was required to cry for “10 minutes straight”. It was especially challenging for her because she had “experienced violence like that” before.

She explained: “Even if I didn’t want to relive it, your body inevitably reactivates a certain physical memory. You have to take care of yourself, before, during and after. That’s the only way through it, otherwise it can reopen wounds that you’ll need to deal with.”

“I had physical recall in my muscle memory from when I’ve been attacked like that,” she later revealed to Glamour.

However, Nava did also tell the magazine that co-star Jessica had her “cracking up” between takes while filming their fight sequence.

“It was such a blessing that I met Jess for the first time when we were doing our stunt training,” she said. “And she was the most lovely person you could ever meet.’

The ending was deliberately ambiguous

Behind the scenes of Baby Reindeer
Behind the scenes of Baby Reindeer Ed Miller/Netflix

Baby Reindeer doesn’t end on the good-triumphs-over-evil kind of climax we’re more used to seeing in other TV series.

Instead, the final scene finds Donny on the receiving end of a familiar act of kindness when a barman offers him a free drink – mirroring the first episode. It’s an ending that’s open to all kinds of interpretations, which was very much deliberate on Richard’s part.

“I quite like the ambiguity of the ending, I sort of don’t want to put a meaning on it. I think it can be interpreted in a lot of different ways,” he told the Radio Times.

“I know what it is in my head – that ending’s my favourite thing in the whole series, the way it ends.”

Baby Reindeer is available to watch on Netflix now.