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The actress who played Martha in the Netflix series Baby Reindeer, Jessica Gunning, recently revealed that she was unaware that her character was based on a real person, Fiona Harvey. The controversy surrounding the series began when Harvey publicly identified herself in an interview with Piers Morgan on his YouTube show Piers Morgan Uncensored. Harvey claimed that she was outed by internet sleuths and received death threats as a result. She is considering legal action against Netflix and series creator Richard Gadd, who based the show on his 2019 autobiographical one-man stage performance in the U.K.

In the series, Gadd plays a fictionalized version of himself called Donny Dunn, while Gunning portrays Martha Scott, a woman who stalks Donny for over four years after they meet. Gadd alleges that the real-life Martha sent him more than 41,000 emails and left over 350 hours of voice messages during their interactions. Gunning stated in an interview that she did not see playing a character based on a real person as problematic, but rather sensitive. She also mentioned that she saw Gadd as playing a character in the series, rather than being himself.

Following Fiona Harvey’s interview with Piers Morgan, which garnered 13 million views, she expressed her desire for a larger financial compensation for appearing on the show. Harvey mentioned that she would settle for a million pounds, equivalent to about $1.25 million in U.S. currency. However, Richard Gadd maintains that Baby Reindeer is based on true emotions, even if it is fictionalized. Piers Morgan has called for Gadd to address unanswered questions, particularly regarding a scene in the series where Martha is sent to prison for stalking Donny, questioning whether this event was invented or based on reality.

Despite the controversy surrounding the series, Baby Reindeer continues to draw in large viewership numbers for Netflix. The limited series premiered in the U.S. on April 11 and has remained on Netflix’s Top 10 Global TV Shows chart for six weeks. For the week of May 13-19, Baby Reindeer was viewed 7.4 million times, totaling 29.5 million viewing hours. This placed the show in the third position on the global TV shows chart, following Bridgerton Season 3 and Ashley Madison Sex Lies & Scandal Season 1, which secured the first and second spots, respectively. The success of the show indicates a continued interest among viewers, despite the controversy surrounding its origins.

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