Baby Reindeer: Did Richard Gadd really break down on stage and when did he write his show, Monkey See Monkey Do?

Donny broke down on stage in Baby Reindeer episode 6 and you might be wondering if this scene was true to creator Richard Gadd's life

Richard Gadd as Donny
(Image credit: Ed Miller/Netflix)

Some viewers might be wondering if Donny’s break down on stage in Baby Reindeer episode 6 actually happened in creator Richard Gadd’s real life.

Ever since it landed on Netflix, Richard Gadd’s Baby Reindeer has been capturing viewers’ attention with its masterful storytelling and its powerful and sensitive themes. The seven-part series is a fictionalised depiction of the Baby Reindeer true story and tells the tale of how comedian Donny (played by Richard) was stalked after making one small gesture of kindness to Martha, all whilst he’s dealing with trauma from his past. Whilst we might not know the identity of the real life Martha, Baby Reindeer is generally faithful to what Richard went through. 

This has prompted curiosity about certain aspects of Baby Reindeer, including Donny’s emotional monologue in episode 6 and whether Richard Gadd had a public breakdown during a comedy show. Here we reveal all we know about whether this moment actually happened.

*Warning: This article contains spoilers and references to sensitive subject matters, including sexual violence*

Did Richard Gadd break down on stage? 

There is nothing to suggest that Richard Gadd broke down on stage in real life like we saw Donny Dunn do in episode 6 of Baby Reindeer. In the show Donny reached the finals of a comedy show and after his performance failed to get a warm reception from the audience, he broke down and delivered a heart-wrenching monologue on stage. Baby Reindeer has plenty of aspects which are incredibly poignant, both within the storyline, and in the production with the dedication to Llewellyn Harrison. However, this scene was arguably one of the most emotional.

Richard Gadd as Donny

(Image credit: Ed Miller/Netflix)

Addressing the audience, a tearful Donny spoke out about being a survivor of sexual violence after being groomed by Darrien who promised he’d help advance his comedy career. He went on to discuss his relationship with Teri, who he’d initially lied to about his name and job. Donny also revealed his stalking ordeal with Martha, who, following his monologue going viral online, left him messages threatening to tell his parents about him being sexually assaulted. 

Fearful that she was going to reveal everything before he could, Donny travelled up to Scotland where he spoke bravely to Gerald and Eleanor Dunn about the video and what he had been through. Although it seems as though Donny’s monologue in the show isn’t something that Richard gave in real life, he did apparently include some comedy material from his real shows in Donny’s stand-up set in Baby Reindeer.

Ed Miller/Netflix

(Image credit: Richard Gadd as Donny)

Whilst Richard Gadd might not have broken down on stage like Donny, his stage show, Monkey See Monkey Do, is deeply harrowing and personal and focuses on sexual violence and trauma. 

When did Richard Gadd write Monkey See Monkey Do? 

Richard Gadd wrote Monkey See Monkey Do in 2016 for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it’s not currently available to watch. Speaking recently to The Guardian following the release of Baby Reindeer, the comedian reflected that at the time he wrote the show, “it was pre-#MeToo; sexual assault wasn’t really in the public consciousness, and male sexual assault particularly wasn’t”. According to Richard his friends were “particularly worried” about the show because “they didn’t think it was funny”. He revealed that 45 minutes before his first performance of Monkey See Monkey Do, he was “cracking up” during a technical rehearsal.

Richard Gadd as Donny

(Image credit: Ed Miller/Netflix)

“I remember cracking up, because it was all going so badly, and the producer said, ‘What do you want from this, man?’ And I turned to him with tears in my eyes, and said, ‘I just want to make it out alive’,” he said. “Little did I know that it would provide a lifeline for me. The way people received that show, and received me, and accepted what happened to me: it saved my life. It’s mad that it happened that way.”

This positive reception and acceptance after being so open in Monkey See Monkey Do is something that clearly meant a lot to Richard.  

In many ways, Baby Reindeer is a blend between Monkey See Monkey Do and his 2019 show, also called Baby Reindeer, which focused on his experience of being stalked. Although the comedian has said that events have been “tweaked slightly to create dramatic climaxes”, he explained that the Netflix show is “very emotionally true”.

“I was severely stalked and severely abused. But we wanted it to exist in the sphere of art, as well as protect the people it’s based on,” he declared.

Re-enacting some of the most traumatic moments of his life for the Baby Reindeer series is something that Richard described as “difficult” and had “triggering elements”.

Richard Gadd as Donny

(Image credit: Ed Miller/Netflix)

“But you hope that it builds to a catharsis, which doesn’t really come from revisiting it, but the positive response, the acceptance that people show you,” he said. “Yes, some of the scenes we re-enacted on set were really tough - I could even see that some of the props department were choked up, even the lighting people - but we all knew that we were pushing towards something that was important. I hope the show has a certain degree of greater good, and that it was worth a certain degree of self-sacrifice.”

Baby Reindeer is available to watch on Netflix now.

If you or someone you know finds themselves in need of support or someone to talk to in a safe space, they can reach out to Victim Support for free by calling their 24/7 Supportline 08 08 16 89 111 or by visiting their website. 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!