The woman who allegedly inspired the stalker in ‘Baby Reindeer’ says the series was ‘completely absurd’

A woman who claims to be the inspiration for Martha’s stalker character in “Baby Reindeer” says the popular Netflix show is “defamatory” and called much of the plot a “work of fiction.”

Actor Richard Gadd created and starred in the series, which follows his character, Donny, as he is stalked by an older woman named Martha (played by Jessica Gunning). Although Gadd has stated that the story is based on his true personal experiences, he has previously noted that the character of Martha is not meant to resemble her real-life counterpart.

But after the show’s popularity soared, many netizens began speculating about who the real Martha was. The theories became so intense that, in late April, Gadd posted an Instagram Story asking fans to stop their unsubstantiated assumptions.

In the interview with Piers Morgan, uploaded to his YouTube page on Thursday, Fiona Harvey, 58, said she was “forced” to speak out about her experience after internet sleuths began harassing her by line.

The series has “taken quite a bit of control over my life. I find it quite obscene. I find it horrible, misogynistic. Some death threats have been really terrible online, people have called me,” Harvey said. “It’s been absolutely horrible. I wouldn’t give credit to something like that, and it’s not really my kind of drama. »

Harvey said neither Netflix nor Gadd contacted her about the show, which she also said she had not watched. She said she was “absolutely” considering taking legal action against Gadd and Netflix.

A spokesperson for Gadd and Netflix did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Gadd’s Netflix series was adapted from his one-man show, which debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland in August 2019. It is described on Gadd’s website as “a chilling personal narrative exploring obsession, the illusion and the consequences of a chance encounter”.

Gadd previously told GQ that the show went to “such great lengths to disguise (her stalker) to the point that I don’t think she would recognize herself.”

While watching the show, viewers receive a message that flashes on the screen and says, “This is a true story.” Later, in the credits, the text says: “This program is based on true events: however certain characters, names, incidents, locations and dialogue have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. »

In his interview, Harvey disputed several of the incidents and details depicted on the show. She said she met Gadd while visiting a London pub for a meal. Unlike on the show, she said, Gadd never offered her a cup of tea.

She said she never caught Gadd looking out her window, heckling his comedy show or attacking his girlfriend. Harvey also stated that she did not know where he lived and had never visited his house or contacted his parents.

“This is completely false. Very, very defamatory to me. Very detrimental to my career, and I wanted to completely point that out on this show. I’m not a stalker. I didn’t go to jail,” Harvey said. “It’s just absurd.”

Morgan asked Harvey about the emails, voicemails, tweets, Facebook messages and letters that Martha sent to Donny on the show. Harvey said she sent Gadd a handful of emails, tweeted at him about 18 times and wrote him a letter. She said she never texted or messaged him on Facebook.

When asked about the show’s title – a nickname Martha gave to Donny – Harvey said she owned a baby reindeer when she was a child. She said her joke mentioning him to Gadd inadvertently gave the show its name.

Harvey could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Morgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The saga comes amid increased attention to the series and “armchair detective” fan envy. Experts told NBC News that the desire to sleuth, which has become commonplace on the Internet, is a symptom of the Internet’s obsession with true crime and its desire to indulge in gossip.

In addition to trying to identify Martha in real life, viewers were also trying to pin down Gadd’s real-life inspiration for the character Darrien, a TV comedy writer who sexually assaults Donny. Many internet users quickly began accusing British actor, writer and director Sean Foley of being the real Darrien, without real proof.

Foley shared on that he had asked the police to investigate “defamatory, abusive and threatening” messages from viewers against him.

For Harvey, Gadd’s Instagram statement did little to quell the harassment.

“Saying ‘don’t speculate’, wow, that’s a bit rich now, isn’t it? Fans are speculating,” Harvey told Morgan. “On Wednesday the Daily Mail contacted me, so it was all over the BBC breaking news Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.”

During a panel discussion Tuesday at a screening in Los Angeles, Gadd told the audience that he never considered his stalker to be a bad guy, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I think I struggle with a toxic empathy problem,” Gadd said. “I remember when I was being bullied it was relentless and it felt like it was everywhere, and I felt like my life wasn’t really working. I still had this incredible feeling of pity for her.

Harvey told Morgan that she didn’t feel like Gadd ever felt sorry for her.

“I think he’s psychotic, and I think anyone who goes into this play and does that to someone, I find his behavior outrageous,” she said, later adding that she “wouldn’t have never had to go to that bar.”

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