|Intro||British television personality|
|Was||Model Writer Television presenter|
|Type||Fashion Film, TV, Stage & Radio Literature|
|Birth||28 April 1982, Watford, Watford, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom|
|Death||9 April 2021 (aged 38 years)|
Nicola Rachele-Beth Grahame (28 April 1982 – 9 April 2021) was an English television personality, model and author. She was a contestant on the seventh series of Big Brother UK in 2006, in which she finished in fifth place, and later starred in her own reality series, Princess Nikki. In 2010, Grahame finished as the runner-up in Ultimate Big Brother, and in 2015, she appeared in the sixteenth series of Big Brother UK as a guest housemate. The following year, she competed in the fourth season of Big Brother Canada, finishing in sixth place. Grahame won a National Television Award for Most Popular TV Contender.
Grahame suffered from anorexia nervosa throughout her life. She released two books, Dying To Be Thin (2009) and Fragile (2012) based on her experiences with the illness. She died due to complications from anorexia on 9 April 2021.
Grahame was born on 28 April 1982 in Northwood, London, England. She described her early childhood as the "happiest ever", however a series of upsets followed, when at the age of eight, her parents divorced and her grandfather, to whom she was extremely close, died from cancer. Grahame was raised by her mother, Susan, after her parents' separation. Grahame—who has been described as a "daddy's girl"—was greatly hurt by the split. Grahame attended Northwood School, London.
Grahame developed an eating disorder that resulted in her parents having her admitted to the children's eating disorders unit at the Maudsley psychiatric hospital in London. She was kept in for six weeks and then released. However, she resumed undereating, and several months later was rushed to an emergency unit at Hillingdon Hospital, where she was force-fed through a nasal tube. She was then transferred to Collingham Gardens child and family psychiatric unit in west London, where her weight was increased and after eight months she was allowed to return home. For 18 months, Grahame remained at home and attended Northwood secondary school in Hillingdon, west London, before her weight started dropping once again. She was readmitted to Collingham Gardens for six months and then to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where she was placed on a psychiatric and eating disorders ward.
Grahame refused to accept treatment willingly and commented: "I was on a mission to starve myself to death...I was obsessed." This culminated in several suicide bids. At the age of 12, she stole a packet of paracetamol from the hospital's supplies and swallowed 22 pills. Shortly after, her weight dropped so low that she fell into a coma and at one stage doctors predicted that she was minutes from death. Grahame was then force-fed via a tube that was stitched inside her stomach, but when she regained consciousness she continuously tried to remove the feeding apparatus. She claimed that her weight subsequently dropped to 17 kg (2 st 9 lb).
Grahame was eventually admitted to Rhodes Farm, an eating disorders clinic in Mill Hill, North London, and after six months she began showing signs of improvement. She commented: "I woke up one morning and thought, 'What are you doing to yourself?'" At the age of 16, she had increased her weight to 40 kg (6 st 4 lb) and was released from the clinic. She relapsed again, this time aged 18, and spent time in an adult eating disorder ward. In the process of overcoming her eating disorder, she developed obsessive-compulsive disorder (in her case involving a chronic fear of germs).
2003: Early media appearances
Before Grahame appeared on Big Brother, she appeared as an extra in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, and played a footballer's wife in Sky One's Dream Team. In 2003, she was a contestant on the ITV dating show Blind Date. In addition, Grahame, who had an NVQ in beauty therapy, also took part in the 2004 Miss Hertfordshire pageant, where she came fourth.
2006: Big Brother 7
In May 2006, Grahame registered as one of the contestants on the seventh series of the Channel 4 (later Channel 5) reality television series Big Brother. While participating in the series, she became known for her histrionics (such as temper tantrums, Diary Room theatrics, including an infamous “who is she?” rant) and becoming romantically linked to the eventual winner of the series, Pete Bennett. During her Big Brother tenure, tabloid newspapers reported that Grahame had battled with the eating disorder anorexia for the majority of her adolescence, and had attempted suicide by taking an overdose of paracetamol several times. The programme's decision to include a contestant with prior mental health issues was criticised in the media, with experts suggesting that she should not have been allowed to take part.
Grahame was nominated for eviction four times during her initial stay in the Big Brother house and was eventually evicted on Day 58, with 37.2% of the public vote. Less than four weeks after her exit, she was voted back into the 'House Next Door' by 63% of the voting public, along with three other ex-housemates. Grahame was then chosen to return to the main house by the surviving contestants, even though she had already been evicted. Grahame was reinstated as an eligible housemate and was once again given the opportunity to receive the £100,000 prize handed out to the winner; a controversial move that prompted 2,700 viewers to complain to the premium rate phone watchdog, ICSTIS.
An ICSTIS regulator commented that the majority of complaining viewers believed that they were misled by the makers of Big Brother, as they were under the impression that they had voted to evict the ex-housemate permanently. In the wake of this, ICSTIS launched an inquiry which could have resulted in Channel 4 refunding an estimated £3 million to people who took part with phone or text votes. Despite ICSTIS ruling that Big Brother breached its guidelines and misled phone voters, Channel 4 was not made to refund viewers and was instead fined and forced to pay almost £50,000 in administrative costs.
Grahame subsequently finished in fifth place, with 6.5% of the final vote. The crowd response was less positive than it had been at her prior eviction, where she seemingly left to unanimous chanting and cheers. Host Davina McCall attempted to interview her but Grahame was reluctant to speak, claiming that she was scared and shocked by the "boos" from the crowd. Grahame's live interview was subsequently cut short and she was eventually led off the stage.
2007–2009: Media career after Big Brother 7
In between her two stays in the Big Brother House, Grahame presented the "Celebrity Spotting" section on one episode of The Friday Night Project, which is normally presented by Debra Stephenson. Grahame has also co-presented alongside Iain Lee on several episodes of his show Celebrity Soup, which aired on the satellite channel E! Entertainment Television. During the time after her first eviction, a reality television series similar to Simple Life was announced in which Grahame would star in. The programme followed her attempts to hold an everyday job and was apparently inspired by her disastrous turn as a PA in a Big Brother task assigned to housemates. The show, Princess Nikki, premiered on E4 on 6 September and ran for six weeks.
Grahame made personal appearances, which included participation in various television shows such as Celebrity Scissorhands and 8 out of 10 Cats, and appearances at student nights and clubs. On 24 March 2007, Grahame appeared on a special "Goodies and Baddies" edition of the game show The Weakest Link. During round three, she was the strongest link of the team (answered the most questions correctly and earned the most money), but was eliminated in round five after then becoming the weakest link of the team. Grahame took part in the Soccer Six charity tournament at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground in May 2007.
In June 2007, Grahame returned to the Big Brother franchise but this time as a reporter for its spin-off show, Big Brother's Little Brother. Known as "The B-Team", Grahame and several other former housemates were sent to various venues to interview people about their opinions on Big Brother 8. She also had a Big Brother column in the magazine, OK!, where she discussed her thoughts on the series. In September 2007, Grahame was given a regular column in OK!'s "Hot Stars" section, where she gave her views on celebrities and recent celebrity events.
2010: Ultimate Big Brother
On 24 August 2010, Grahame returned to Big Brother to compete in Ultimate Big Brother, where she was the only housemate to represent Big Brother 7 as a contestant. Grahame was nominated to face a double eviction in the second week of the show's run alongside five of her fellow housemates, Grahame survived the public vote after tallying fewer votes to evict than at least two of the other nominated housemates. On 10 September, Grahame became the runner up in the show receiving a positive reaction from the crowd, after losing out to Big Brother 2 winner Brian Dowling in the final vote. Grahame's final placing was three higher than her placing in Big Brother 7.
During Grahame's time in Ultimate Big Brother she appeared to be more comfortable discussing her issues with anorexia, in particular she opened up to Vanessa Feltz who has also had problems with her weight.
2015–2021: Big Brother Canada 4 and media career
In 2015, Grahame returned to the sixteenth series of Big Brother as a Time Warp Housemate. In September 2015, she collaborated with JYY London to design a wide range of fashion garments for petite girls. In an interview with Reveal Magazine, Grahame stated “I've been on buying trips and been designing a lot of things myself. From the very start I said I wanted to be really hands on, from picking fabrics to designing labels and I feel like I've succeeded. Im excited that it's a petite collection because sizing is always something I struggle with.”
On 23 February 2016, it was revealed that Grahame was one of four 'international wildcards' representing Big Brother UK who could potentially be voted into the Big Brother Canada house via an online vote. Following the first eviction on 3 March 2016, it was revealed that Grahame had been voted into the house with Tim Dormer, the winner of the tenth series of Big Brother Australia. They both then became immune for the week. On 14 April, Grahame was voted in the top two of who Canada wanted to see become the Head of Household for the week, but ultimately lost a competition of luck to fellow HouseGuests Nick & Phil Paquette. On 24 April, Grahame was nominated for eviction by HoH Cassandra as a "Pawn" to evict a bigger target. On 28 April, she survived this eviction when Jared Kesler was evicted in a 3-1 eviction vote. However, in a Double Eviction twist, Grahame was nominated once again for eviction alongside Dormer by the HoH Nick & Phil. Dormer was vetoed off the block and was replaced by Joel Lefevre. Grahame then became the tenth houseguest to be evicted in a 3-0 eviction vote, and received a standing ovation from the studio audience. Grahame was evicted on her 34th birthday, on Day 63. As a result of her eviction, Grahame was the 5th member of the nine person Jury who voted to decide the winner of the season on Finale Night. She, along with six other jurors, voted for Nick & Phil to be the winners of the series.
In August 2017, Grahame appeared on the Channel 5 documentary In Therapy which aired on 3 August 2017. The programme featured Grahame in intensive on-camera therapy sessions with psychotherapist Mandy Saligari where she spoke about her struggles with depression and anorexia. Throughout the years, Grahame has often appeared on the panel of Big Brother's Bit on the Side. In 2017, Grahame appeared as a special guest for the Big Brother Canada awards.
In 2018, Grahame entered the Big Brother house for the final time. Upon speaking about it being the last series, Grahame said "There is something about this house where nothing else matters. Big Brother has played such a huge part of my life, it changed my life for the better. I don’t have one regret, not one. It will always have a place in my heart. Thank you Big Brother for everything. Literally, everything."
Personal life and death
At the age of 18, Grahame was given breast implants on the NHS, because her years of anorexia had left her flat-chested. In April 2007, Grahame said that she had undergone corrective plastic surgery on her breast implants to fix "ripples" left by the first operation.
In October 2011, Grahame confirmed she had relapsed and was suffering from anorexia again, stating she had checked into her 11th institution and weighed 5 st 7 lb (35 kg).
In March 2021, Grahame's family announced that she had relapsed again. They stated that she "constantly feels weak and is struggling on a day to day basis", and explained that she does want to recover, but feels it is "impossible". They began a GoFundMe fundraiser to pay for private treatment, since the NHS treatments "failed", and they had "exhausted every avenue possible". Later that month, Grahame entered a private facility to receive specialist treatment, where she remained until her death on 9 April 2021 due to complications from anorexia nervosa, at the age of 38. Among those who paid tributes were former Big Brother UK presenter Davina McCall, Big Brother Canada host Arisa Cox, television presenter Paddy McGuinness, and other Big Brother alumni including Rylan Clark-Neal, Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace, Pete Bennett, and Katie Price.
|Dream Team||Footballer's wife||Minor role|
|2006||Big Brother UK 7||Contestant||Finished in 5th place|
|Princess Nikki||Herself||Lead role; one series|
|The Jeremy Kyle Show||1 episode|
|The Friday Night Project||Guest presenter||1 episode|
|2006, 2009, 2010||TMi||Herself||3 episodes|
|2007||8 Out of 10 Cats: Big Brother Special||Guest panelist||2 episodes|
|Weakest Link||Contestant||Celebrity special, 1 episode|
|Celebrity Soup||Guest co-presenter||3 episodes|
|2007–2010||Big Brother's Little Brother||Panelist|
|2007–2009||Big Brother's Big Mouth|
|2008||Balls of Steel||Herself||1 episode|
|Celebrity Juice||1 episode|
|2010||Ultimate Big Brother||Contestant||Finished in 2nd place|
|2011–2018||Big Brother's Bit on the Side||Panelist|
|Celebrity Big Brother's Bit on the Side|
|2012||Celebrity Coach Trip'||Herself||Paired with Aisleyne; eliminated first|
|2015||Big Brother||Guest housemate||16th series|
|The Family Outing||Nina||Film|
|Pointless Celebrities||Contestant||1 episode|
|2016||Big Brother Canada 4||Finished in 6th place|
|Loose Women||Herself||1 episode|
|2017||In Therapy||1 episode|
|2018||The Story of Reality TV||Television documentary|
|2019||Britain's Got More Talent||1 episode, with Aisleyne|
|2020||Big Brother: Best Shows Ever|
|2006||National Television Awards||Most Popular TV Contender||Won|
- 2009: Dying To Be Thin (autobiography)
- 2012: Fragile (autobiography)