Baby Reindeer's Jessica Gunning has spoken out about the 'real-life Martha'

"It’s inevitable that people are intrigued by who the real people are."

Baby Reindeer the real life Martha
(Image credit: Ed Miller/Netflix)

Richard Gadd's Baby Reindeer became an instant Netflix hit following its release on the streaming platform in April. In the weeks following its debut, it became something of a cultural phenomenon and has been widely praised for its nuanced, delicate and brutally honest approach to issues such as mental health, sexual assault and harassment. However, it has also faced criticism for how it disguised its real-life counterparts.

Baby Reindeer opens with a statement alleging that the show is a 'true story', and its popularity led social media users to investigate who the characters may be. While Gadd asked viewers not to try and seek out those involved, a women named Fiona Harvey has since claimed to be the 'real-life Martha' and appeared on Piers Morgan's YouTube series Piers Morgan Uncensored where she stated that she is taking legal action against Netflix.

Earlier this month, Policy Chief at Netflix, Benjamin King, spoke about the intense interest in the characters' 'real-life' counterparts during a UK Parliamentary hearing where he insisted that the streaming platform adhered to adequate duty of care standards. He said: "[Netflix and Clerkenwell Films] took every reasonable precaution in disguising the real-life identities of the people involved in that story. We didn’t want to anonymise that or make it generic to the point where it was no longer his story because that would undermine the intent behind the show. Ultimately, it’s obviously very difficult to control what viewers do, particularly in a world where everything is amplified by social media."

He added that he 'wouldn’t be comfortable with a world in which we decided it was better that Richard was silenced and not allowed to tell the story', and Gadd himself has since shared that he will no longer publicly discuss the speculation, telling The Hollywood Reporter: "I've spoken publicly about how I don’t want people to do it and if I start playing a game of whack-a-mole, then I’m almost adding to it. I don’t think I’ll ever comment on it ever again."

Now, Jessica Gunning - who plays Martha in the show - has addressed the criticism that Gadd is facing online. During an interview with Radio Times she said that he was 'incredibly brave to bare all' and that he 'really did put everything in that show, warts and all, errors, mistakes that were made.'

When asked about the speculation over the 'real-life Martha', Gunning said: "I'm always fiercely protective of him and I want to make sure that none of this is upsetting for him, really, so I try and keep out of any of that stuff... He’s a survivor of sexual assault, and he was stalked, and I think any search for real people almost undermines that slightly.

"He said in the past he didn’t want any internet sleuths to try and find the identities of these real people. He changed identities for a reason. But it’s inevitable that people are intrigued by who the real people are."

Baby Reindeer is currently streaming on Netflix.

Jadie Troy-Pryde
News Editor

Jadie Troy-Pryde is News Editor, covering celebrity and entertainment, royal, lifestyle and viral news. Before joining the team in 2018 as the Lifestyle and Social Media Editor, she worked at a number of women’s fashion and lifestyle titles including Grazia, Women’s Health and Stylist, and now heads the Marie Claire UK news desk.