The Real Teri in Baby Reindeer Sent Richard Gadd a Telling Message After The Events Of The Show

With events based on real life, obsessed audiences are frantic to find out the identity of the real Teri in Baby Reindeer and others featured in the show. The show is about a struggling Scottish comedian and a woman who obsessively stalks him.

Actor and writer Richard Gadd conceptualized Baby Reindeer after a woman sent him 41,071 emails, 350 hours’ worth of voicemails, 744 tweets, 46 Facebook messages, 106 pages of letters, and a variety of weird gifts, including a reindeer toy (hence the show’s name), sleeping pills, a woolly hat and boxer shorts over four years. It began as a one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe and got picked up by Netflix, featuring Gadd as a fictionalized version of himself named Donny Dunn. The show explores his traumas and how the situation affected his career and personal life.

“Stalking on television tends to be very sexed-up. It has a mystique,” Gadd told Netflix’s Tudum. It’s somebody in a dark alleyway. It’s somebody who’s really sexy, who’s very normal, but then they go strange bit by bit,” Gadd explains. “But stalking is a mental illness. I really wanted to show the layers of stalking with a human quality I hadn’t seen on television before. It’s a stalker story turned on its head. It takes a trope and turns it on its head.”

Over seven episodes, we see Gadd strike up a relationship with a trans woman, but when Teri becomes the target of his stalker, their relationship suffers. Ultimately, they break up. With the intrigue and the knowledge that the show is based on a true story, audiences the world over have been trying to figure out who the characters are based on. And while Gadd hasn’t identified anyone, he has said that the real Teri has been his “voice of reason”.

The real Teri in Baby Reindeer

Like many of Gadd’s story’s characters, the real Teri in Baby Reindeer hasn’t been identified. But Nava Mau, who plays Teri in Baby Reindeer, revealed during an interview with GQ that there’s more to their story—a piece of the script that never made it to the final cut of the show.

“Teri leaves Donny a voicemail five months later. So I think, for me, I got closure because Teri did too,” the actor told GQ. “That’s what gave me so much comfort, knowing that they found peace with regards to their relationship. Teri found a new man, she didn’t lose her friends, she didn’t lose her job, she didn’t lose her smile. She’s good. And I think that is remarkable because so often we’ve seen stories of trans people that end with them broken.”

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In an interview with The Independent, Gadd spoke about his relationship with the person Teri is based on, and how attitudes towards trans people were different. “It’s in the public consciousness now, but it wasn’t back then when I was dating,” he says. “It felt so new that it added a certain pressure, to me, that I really regret now. But that’s what it explores in the show. This story was set back in a time when things were very different.”

Speaking with The Tab, Gadd explained about the real Teri: “The real-life person always used to call me out on my shit and I always used to find it confronting. My behavior was irrational and so it was very important to have Teri be the voice of reason in the show.” He continued: “I mean, she was the voice of reason in my life at that point as well, not that I listened to her as much as I should have.”

Gadd has not disclosed the identity of the real-life Martha due to privacy and legal reasons. “We’ve gone to such great lengths to disguise her to the point that I don’t think she would recognize herself,” he explained to GQ. “What’s been borrowed is an emotional truth, not a fact-by-fact profile of someone.”

Gadd himself doesn’t know her whereabouts. He had a restraining order against her but did not want her to go to prison. According to an interview with The Times UK, he “didn’t want to throw someone who was that level of mentally unwell in prison.” He felt “mixed feelings about it” but that the situation was now “resolved.”

On why he felt a sense of empathy for the real-life Martha, he told GQ UK, “Someone comes in who seems very normal, they seem perfect, but bit by bit they get weirder and weirder. Stalking is a mental dysfunction, it’s an illness and I wasn’t dealing with someone who felt calculated or insidious. I felt I was dealing with someone who was vulnerable, somebody who was mentally ill, someone who couldn’t stop because they believed what was in their head.”

For more on Baby Reindeer, check out Richard Gadd’s book
and play that inspired the Netflix series. The script, which won an Olivier Award in 2020, “is described as a chilling story about obsession, delusion and the terrifying ramifications of a fleeting mistake.” Gadd writes in Baby Reindeer, “I looked at her, wanting her to laugh. Wanting her to share in the joke. But she didn’t. She just stared. I knew then, in that moment – that she had taken it literally…”

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