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Nikki Grahame, who competed on Big Brother UK, has died following a longtime battle with anorexia. She was 38.
The British reality star's death comes weeks after she checked herself into a private clinic for life-saving care after her eating disorder worsened amid the coronavirus lockdown. Her death was announced on a GoFundMe page that was set up to raise money to pay for her treatment. Grahame's rep also confirmed her passing to E! News on Saturday, April 10.
"It is with immeasurable sadness that Nikki Grahame passed away in the early hours of Friday 9th April 2021," the rep said in a statement. "Please respect the privacy of Nikki's friends and family at this tragic and difficult time."
Nikki is survived by her parents, Sue Grahame and David Grahame, who are divorced, and older sister, Natalie.
"It is with great sadness, we have to let you know that our dear friend Nikki passed away in the early hours of Friday 9th April," read the update on the GoFundMe page. "It breaks our hearts to know that someone who is so precious was taken from us at such a young age. Nikki not only touched the lives of millions of people, but also her friends and family who will miss her immensely. We would like to request privacy at this difficult time, while Nikki's friends and family process the sad news."
The post continued, "Rest In Peace, Nikki. We love you & not a day will go by without missing your smile. X X X."
Grahame competed on Big Brother UK season seven in 2006. In 2010, she returned for the show's "all-stars" season, Ultimate Big Brother, and came in second place. She also appeared on the 16th season of Big Brother UK in 2015. A year later, she joined Big Brother Canada season four as a "Wildcard Houseguest" and in 2018, she appeared on season 19 of Big Brother UK.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Nikki's mother Sue recalled how her daughter was ecstatic upon finding out she had been cast in Big Brother UK for the first time, when she worked as a mail courier.
"She was jumping up and down, she was so delighted," she said. "I sat there and thought ‘Oh my God.' I'd never seen the show and I thought ‘is she going to cope?' She said 'Mum, it's the best day of my life!'"
Sue also spoke about her daughter's longtime anorexia battle, which the reality star documented in her books, Dying to be Thin: The True Story of My Lifelong Battle Against Anorexia and Fragile: The True Story of My Lifelong Battle Against Anorexia. Sue revealed that Nikki was diagnosed with one as a child and had been hospitalized for her illness as a child and attempted suicide in the past as an adult. Sue told The Telegraph that after COVID-19 broke out, her daughter, who lived alone, suffered from "terminal loneliness."
"This last year has just about floored her," she said. "From the first lockdown, it was hellish. She struggled because she couldn't go to the gym. Then in December she fell down and cracked her pelvis in two places and broke her wrist. I stayed with her for three or four weeks because she couldn't do anything."
Sue also talked about Nikki's battle on ITV's This Morning show. "I think last year really put the cap on it, with COVID," she said. "It sounds crazy, but even stuff like gyms closing, which was quite important to Nikki, because in a lot of ways, in order for her to eat, she needs to know that she can exercise. So when they closed, it was quite a worry."
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">'Nikki was ditching her lunch every day. I had no idea.'<br><br>Years before Nikki Grahame became a Big Brother sensation, she was battling an eating disorder that has plagued her since childhood.<br><br>We caught up with her mum Sue, after Nikki's condition 'spiralled' during lockdown. <a href="https://t.co/HOP6XGj2id">pic.twitter.com/HOP6XGj2id</a></p>— This Morning (@thismorning) <a href="https://twitter.com/thismorning/status/1376832809675939841?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 30, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Sue told The Telegraph that when Nikki's friends saw her again recently and saw how thin she had become, they set up the GoFundMe page to help her get treatment. More than $94,000 was raised for her eating disorder treatment before her death, whose official cause was not revealed.
Later on Saturday, a tribute to Nikki was posted on Big Brother UK's Twitter page. It read, "Nikki Grahame was a much loved housemate and a huge part of the Big Brother family. We are shocked and saddened by this awful news and our thoughts are with her family."
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237.