review

Review of Piers Morgan’s Baby Reindeer interview: Unmasking Fiona Harvey as Martha a Roman circus

Christopher Stevens
Daily Mail
Fiona Harvey has broken her silence on the hit Netflix series Baby Reindeer
Fiona Harvey has broken her silence on the hit Netflix series Baby Reindeer Credit: Max Corstorphan/Twitter: @piersmorgan

The Baby Reindeer phenomenon gripping the world has turned into a circus.

Not a children’s circus with clowns and acrobats — a Roman circus, where the prisoner is savaged as the crowd bays.

“Martha”, the mentally fragile 58-year-old woman unmasked by a mob of internet detectives as the real-life stalker from the Netflix megahit, gave a bombshell interview to Piers Morgan on his YouTube show Uncensored last night.

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Until now, the Mail has chosen not to identify her.

Even after she gave an exclusive interview to us two weeks ago — and then bombarded our reporter Neil Sears with voice messages — we withheld her name and pixelated her face, to protect her privacy.

Now she has placed her real identity in the public domain, we will name her as Fiona Harvey — but with misgivings.

She is evidently an emotionally unstable individual with a volatile personality, much more to be pitied than condemned.

Through the interview, she repeatedly appeared to lie and contradict herself, while throwing insults and wallowing in self-pity.

The writer and star of Baby Reindeer, comedian Richard Gadd, was “psychotic” and “the ultimate misogynist”, she said.

“He’s got extreme psychiatric problems.”

Richard Gadd and the on-screen ‘Martha’, who has been unmasked in real life as Fiona Harvey.
Richard Gadd and the on-screen ‘Martha’, who has been unmasked in real life as Fiona Harvey. Credit: Netflix

Whether any of these statements about Gadd are accurate is doubtful.

But I ask again what sort of society treats this as entertainment?

She calls it a “bizarre circus” herself.

What has this country become, that we goad a woman to justify herself after she has been labelled “mad” in a TV drama based (without her permission) on an episode in her life?

I’ll tell you what sort of society — one that trumpets the sanctimonious catchphrase #BeKind like a national slogan.

Naturally, Harvey’s appearance on Uncensored, instantly viewed by more than half a million people, will not be the final word.

Baby Reindeer, the seven-part comedy drama, currently the most popular series on Netflix with record-breaking audience figures in the UK and the US, is a combination of cringeworthy memoir and horror movie.

At the end of every episode, viewers are told that it is based on a true story — one that is thinly fictionalised, it must be said.

Viewers are told Baby Reindeer is based on a true story.
Viewers are told Baby Reindeer is based on a true story. Credit: Wenlei Ma/Netflix

In the opening scene, Donny — played by Gadd — is a scrawny, bearded millennial with a desperate need for attention who is working as a barman in a London pub when a tearful woman (played by Jessica Gunning) sits down at the bar.

She is based on Harvey, but given the name “Martha” to disguise her real identity, the writer has said.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to protect Harvey from internet sleuths.

He gives her a cup of tea on the house, flirts a little and makes her laugh.

Over the next few weeks, she comes in regularly, and the flirting becomes sexual banter — which Martha takes seriously.

Fiona Harvey admits she used to go to The Hawley Arms in Camden, London, and chat to Gadd behind the bar.

But she denied emphatically that the drama is a truthful reflection of what happened next – a terrifying, obsessive campaign of stalking.

Harvey is accused of sending Gadd 41,000 emails, 350 hours of voice messages, 744 tweets, 48 Facebook messages and 106 letters.

“That’s simply not true,” she insisted.

“If I was sending someone 41,000 emails or something, they’d be doing how many a day? Lots. I don’t think I sent him anything... No, I think there may have been a couple of emails exchanging... Just jokey banter emails.”

She went on to protest there were fewer than ten emails, just 18 tweets and one letter.

When Morgan asked who had sent all the other messages Gadd claimed to have received (many of which are quoted in the show), she retorted, “I have no idea. I think he’s probably made it up.”

The voicemails must have been recordings made surreptitiously in the pub while she was talking, she suggested.

“I’ve not phoned the guy. I don’t have his number.”

Who isn’t being entirely truthful? Both of them?

Actor Jessica Gunning plays ‘Martha’ in Baby Reindeer.
Actor Jessica Gunning plays ‘Martha’ in Baby Reindeer. Credit: Wenlei Ma/Netflix

Gadd’s character Donny states in the first episode of Baby Reindeer that his tormentor had previously been jailed for conducting similar campaigns: “I had a convicted stalker stalking me.”

In fact, though Harvey has been accused of making other people’s lives miserable with her obsessive messaging, she was never jailed for it.

That’s a figment of Gadd’s imagination — as is the conclusion of the drama, where Martha pleads guilty to intimidation and is sentenced to a further nine months.

“That’s completely untrue,” Harvey said.

“Very, very defamatory to me, very career damaging. I’m not a stalker. I’ve not been to jail, This is just complete nonsense.”

It must be said — and to his credit — that Piers Morgan trod carefully, challenging her more dubious statements but never hectoring or pressuring her.

He pointed out contradictions in what she was saying but, commendably, did not attempt to dismantle her testimony, as he might do with a politician.

He afforded her the chance to open fire on both Gadd and Netflix who, she says, are making millions out of libelling her – “milking it for all it’s worth”.

“We’ve had no apologies from Netflix or him, nothing. My character seems to have smashed up a bar, sexually assaulted him in a canal... That’s not true.”

Looking understandably anxious and upset, Harvey answered every question without hesitation.

When Morgan showed her clips from the series, her face remained impassive.

She seemed more distressed to see clips of YouTube podcasters discussing the show and commenting on her character — something that would surely leave most people shaken.

Even when accusing Gadd of lying about her, Harvey kept her voice level.

There was no shouting, no hysterics.

She had no option but to try to clear her name, she said, adding: “On the internet, sleuths tracked me down and hounded me and gave me death threats. So it wasn’t really a choice. I was forced into this situation.”

Asked whether she had watched Baby Reindeer, she said: “I haven’ t watched any of it.”

“You’re not curious?” Piers asked.

“No, I think I’d be sick. It’s taken over enough of my life. I find it quite obscene. I find it horrifying, misogynistic. Some of the death threats have been really terrible online. People phoning me up. I wouldn’t give credence to something like that and it’s not really my kind of drama.”

She also denied attacking one of Gadd’s girlfriends in a jealous rage: “No, I don’t think he had a girlfriend. I think he’s, say, homosexual.”

She added: “He’s done bloody well out of defaming me. He’s making money out of untrue facts. He’s been the ultimate misogynist.”

All she wanted to say to him was, “get a life, get a proper job. Leave me alone please”.

But after stepping so decisively into the spotlight, there’s no chance that Fiona Harvey will be left alone any time soon.

This circus goes on.

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