Nikki Grahame, the bubbly, energetic British reality TV star who crossed over for Season 4 of Big Brother Canada, has died at the age of 38.
Grahame died “in the early hours of Friday,” according to a statement on her official website.
Grahame had been struggling with an eating disorder and was seeking help at a private hospital when she died, according to a GoFundMe page run by her friend, Leon Dee.
“It is with great sadness, we have to let you know that our dear friend Nikki passed away in the early hours of Friday,” he wrote in an update on the page, which has raised more than £68,000 to date. “It breaks our hearts to know that someone who is so precious was taken from us at such a young age.”
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Grahame was a sweet, fan-favourite reality star who appeared on Big Brother U.K. in 2006 and Ultimate Big Brother in 2010. She also joined Big Brother Canada as one of two international contestants in 2016.
Pete Bennett, Grahame’s ex and another former Big Brother contestant, paid tribute to her in a tearful Instagram post over the weekend. He said the GoFundMe support for her struggle had been “overwhelming,” and he thought it would be enough to “save her.”
“But we didn’t,” he said. “It’s OK. She’s in a good place, and she’s not suffering anymore.”
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Former Big Brother U.K. host Davina McCall also mourned her death on Twitter.
“She really was the funniest, most bubbly, sweetest girl,” she wrote.
Big Brother Canada host Arisa Cox also mourned Grahame on Twitter.
“HEARTBROKEN to hear the devastating news that the incredible force of nature that is Nikki Grahame has passed away,” Cox wrote. “We messaged some love to each other just a few weeks ago and I cannot believe this is happening.”
Several Big Brother alumni shared tributes to Grahame following her death.
Grahame was open about her struggles with anorexia nervosa throughout her life, writing about it in two autobiographical books and discussing it in various television appearances.
“From the age of 8-19, Nikki went from hospitals to institutions and back to more hospitals in her long life-threatening battle with anorexia,” the biography on her website says. “Nikki is still not free of her anorexia and every day is a battle.”
Grahame’s mother recently told ITV that COVID-19 lockdowns had contributed to her daughter’s anorexia relapse, because she couldn’t work out at the gym to cope with her anxiety.
“With COVID, it sounds crazy but stuff like gyms closing impacted her. In order for her to eat she needs to know she can exercise, so when they closed it was quite a worry, the isolation as well,” Susan Grahame said.
“She felt very cut off and spending too much time on her own with not enough to think about other than food.”
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