What Happened To The Real Martha From Netflix’s ‘Baby Reindeer’?

Netflix‘s Baby Reindeer is based upon the true story of creator, comedian, and leading man Richard Gadd. He did, of course, make changes to characters so that they are not recognizable as the real people who inspired (in the worst form of the word) some of these characters, but nonetheless, what the characters did and are going through are both rooted in fact.

In the limited series, Richard’s character switches up as “Donny,” a bartender who is sexually assaulted by a male who Donny had considered a friend. While reeling from residual trauma, he finds himself faced at work by Martha, who is portrayed by Jessica Gunning. Long story short, he does not discourage her affections (and she nicknames him as “Baby Reindeer”), but then she grows obsessed with him. This, as well, turns into a traumatic experience for Donny, who calls the police on his stalker, who has begun threatening him and displaying abrupt mood swings. In the series, Martha is eventually handed a nine-month prison sentence, and Donny is granted a five-year protective order against her, but what happened to the real-life woman who was a basis for the Martha character?

As Gadd recently told The Sunday Times (in the United Kingdom), the real-life stalker represented by Martha did not go to prison, and Gadd “didn’t want to throw someone who was that level of mentally unwell” behind bars. Additionally, Gadd told Variety that Jessica Gunning nailed the emotional essence of “Martha,” although at least on the surface, Gunning does not bear too much of a resemblance to Gadd’s real-life stalker:

“Well, we have to make them different for legal reasons. But what I needed to see was the essence of the person, the kind of energy, and no one did it like Jess. 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. When somebody has severe mental health problems, they tend to leap from one emotion to the next, sometimes even quite quickly. And that’s very hard to do from an acting point of view, but Jess seems to have it in her pores.

Baby Reindeer‘s full first season (and there hasn’t been word on a second round) is streaming on Netflix.