Why is Baby Reindeer called Baby Reindeer? The meaning behind the Netflix drama's unique name

Wondering how Baby Reindeer got its name? You’re probably not alone and the Netflix show's finale delivers a poignant explanation

Richard Gadd as Donny, Jessica Gunning as Martha
(Image credit: Ed Miller/Netflix)

Why is Baby Reindeer called that? This might be the question on your mind after discovering what the chilling Netflix series is all about.

Don’t be fooled by the rather adorable name of Netflix’s latest true crime hit as Richard Gadd’s Baby Reindeer is as far removed from a nature-focused show as it’s possible to get. The seven-part drama was created by comedian Richard, who also takes on the role of Donny Dunn in this dramatised version of his own real-life stalking ordeal. After giving Martha a tea on the house at the pub where he worked, her appreciation turned into obsession and she stalked him for over four years. 

The heart-wrenching and disturbing aspects of the Baby Reindeer true story are generally faithful to real events and it’s perhaps all-too-easy to wonder how this chilling series got its very unique name. As viewers continue to become immersed in the show, we reveal why Baby Reindeer is called Baby Reindeer.

*Warning: This article contains spoilers*

Richard Gadd as Donny

(Image credit: Ed Miller/Netflix)

Why is Baby Reindeer called Baby Reindeer?

Netflix’s Baby Reindeer is seemingly called Baby Reindeer after a nickname that Donny’s stalker Martha (played by Jessica Gunning) gives him. In the finale viewers are given more detail about why she chose this very unusual pet name. 

After leaving a voicemail in which she threatened that she could potentially stab “someone”, indicated to be either Donny or his family, Martha was arrested. At her hearing she was sentenced to nine months in prison and given a five-year restraining order and Martha broke down in tears, calling Donny her “little reindeer”.

Later on in the Baby Reindeer finale, Donny continued to work his way through Martha’s voicemail messages, cataloguing them by mood. In one of them that he listened to in the final stages of the show, Martha said that a baby reindeer toy is one of her most treasured possessions to this day. 

“I had this wee cuddly toy when I was young. Went with me everywhere. Earliest memory I have, I think, was Christmas time. This old photo of me, sitting with this paper hat on my head and this baby reindeer beside me. Anyway, this reindeer was this cuddly, fluffy thing. It had big lips, huge eyes, and the cutest wee bum,” she explained.

Martha went on to reveal that not only did she still have the toy, but that it was “the only good thing” about her childhood and was a source of comfort to her in difficult times. Not only that, but Donny apparently reminded her of this reindeer toy.

Jessica Gunning as Martha in Baby Reindeer

(Image credit: Ed Miller/Netflix)

She said, “I’d hug it when they fought. And they fought a lot, you know? Well, you are the spit of that reindeer. The same nose. Same eyes. Same cute wee bum. It means so much to me. You… You mean so much to me.”

This is seemingly why Baby Reindeer is called Baby Reindeer - after the nickname Martha gave Donny that came about because he reminded her of her beloved cuddly toy.

The voicemail Martha left Donny in the Netflix show is something that her actor Jessica Gunning “clung” to. Speaking to RadioTimes.com, she shared that she found it very “emotional” and was the “thing I always went back to”.

Martha in Baby Reindeer

(Image credit: Netflix)

“So in the courtroom scene, in the scene when she’s on her own at the bar, that’s actually the voicemail I read just to get me into that - I find it so emotional, that final voicemail,” she said. “That’s the thing that I clung to in terms of her past. That voicemail is absolutely the thing I clung to, for sure, because I just found that so emotional.”

Did the real Martha call Richard Gadd Baby Reindeer?

Comedian Richard Gadd has never revealed who the real life Martha is and has instead given her the name Martha in Baby Reindeer, as well as in his one-man show at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival that preceded it, to protect her identity. According to Vanity Fair in a piece published since Baby Reindeer landed, when asked about whether “Baby Reindeer” is the nickname given to him by the real Martha, Richard Gadd responded, “I don’t think I can talk about that.”

Richard Gadd as Donny in Baby Reindeer

(Image credit: Ed Miller/Netflix)

In light of this, it seems as though the show’s depiction of Martha giving him the reindeer nickname might not be entirely true to life, or at least it hasn’t been confirmed as really happening. However, as per The Independent, as well as the 41,071 emails, 350 hours of voicemails, 744 tweets and 106 pages of letters Richard received from Martha, she also sent him a variety of items including a cuddly reindeer toy. 

Regardless of whether the real Martha called Richard “baby reindeer”, it seems as though the decision was made to integrate this nickname into the fictionalised series and that likely inspired the name.

Baby Reindeer is available to watch on Netflix.

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!