Trigger Warning: This article contains serious themes, please read with caution
The world was saddened to hear of the passing of English television personality, model, and author, Nicola “Nikki” Grahame on April 9th, 2021, following complications of her battle with Anorexia Nervosa.
The 38-year-old became known across the country after her 2006 appearance in the seventh series of ‘Big Brother UK’ in which she finished 5th. In 2010, she went on to appear in ‘Ultimate Big Brother’ in which she finished as the runner-up. 2015 saw Grahame return to the Big Brother UK house as she appeared in the 16th series as a guest housemate. The following year, she made an appearance in ‘Big Brother Canada’ in which she finished 6th. Before her appearances on ‘Big Brother’ she had appeared on shows such as ‘EastEnders’, ‘Dream Team’, and ‘Blind Date’. She also earned an NVQ in Beauty Therapy which saw her compete in the 2004 Miss Hertfordshire pageant where she finished 4th. Grahame had always been open about suffering with Anorexia Nervosa throughout her life and had released two books in which she had detailed her experiences of the illness: ‘Dying to Be Thin (2009) and ‘Fragile’ (2012). In August 2017, she made an appearance on the Channel 5 documentary ‘In Therapy’ in which she could be seen undertaking intensive therapy session with psychotherapist Mandy Saligari in which she discussed her struggles with Anorexia and Depression.
During Grahame’s youth, her battle with Anorexia was ongoing. From the age of 12, she was first admitted to Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital’s Children’s Easting Disorders Unit, where she was kept for six weeks, after she developed an eating disorder and was continuously undereating. Grahame had said herself that since she was 7, she was always insecure about her weight and appearance.
Months later, she was rushed to an emergency unit, at Hillingdon Hospital, where she was force-fed through a nasal tube before being transferred to Collingham Gardens Child and Family Psychiatric Unit, where she underwent an 8 month stay. For 18 months, Grahame was able to remain at home and attend secondary school, but subsequently had to undergo another 6 months stay at Collingham Gardens before she was transferred to a Psychiatric and Eating Disorders Ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
In March 2021, it was announced that Grahame had relapsed again, stating that she “constantly [felt] weak and is struggling on a day-to-day basis”. They assured fans of the reality star that she was doing her best to recover but simply felt “impossible”. Despite the families efforts to raise funds for private healthcare, it was announced, on March 24th, that Grahame had sadly passed away.
Unfortunately, Nikki Grahames case is one of millions who suffer from an eating disorder throughout the UK. With the ongoing pandemic, the number has risen tremendously with the charity Beat stating that their helpline has seen a ‘300% increase in people contacting them’. As many have faced isolation during lockdown, the rise is perhaps no surprise but with Grahames death now at the forefront of the media, her passing may be used to bring awareness to this cruel illness.
Written by Leah Langley
Edited and co-written by Sophie Alexander – Entertainment Editor
Header Image by Annabel Smith