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WARNING: CONTAINS TRIGGERING CONTENT ABOUT EATING DISORDERS
Viewers watching Channel 4’s emotional new documentary Nikki Grahame: Who Is She? were left in tears after hearing 'heartbreaking' details about the former Big Brother star’s illness.
Nikki Grahame was one of the most famous names to come out of the Big Brother franchise, having starred in the seventh series in 2006 before returning to the house in 2015 for Ultimate Big Brother, emerging as a runner-up.
However, throughout her life she was in and out of hospital to be treated for anorexia – the cause of her tragic and untimely death at the age of 38.
Tying in with the anniversary of her passing last April, the new documentary serves as a ‘tribute’ to the ‘much-loved reality icon’, charting her rise to fame while also hearing from friends and family about the hardships she faced behind closed doors, thanks to the illness she lived with for decades.
Her mum Sue said in the programme: “There was the Nikki everyone knew and loved, and there was this alter-ego that would step in.
“This anorexia, it so controlled everything she thought, everything she did.”
Through tears, she added: “It’s cost me my daughter.”
The documentary also features difficult-to-watch footage from Grahame’s sessions with addictions and eating disorders therapist Maddy Saligari, who reflects on how the star’s illness was ‘deep inside her’.
Saligari said she did everything she could to try and get Grahame into a specialist clinic in South Africa – eventually succeeding, only to find that it was too late.
“It was 10 o’clock in the morning and I rang her, and it went to voicemail,” Saligari said.
“And what I didn’t know then was that she’d already died.”
Viewers have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts about the documentary, with many admitting it was a 'tough watch' and that it had them in tears.
One wrote: "Watching #nikkigrahame documentary on TV. It is so heartbreaking and I could really cry. I still can't believe she isn't here on earth anymore. I met her a few years ago at an event and I just wanted to hug her and take her home with me."
Someone else said: "I’m already crying. This is awful. I’m so privileged to have never experienced anything like this #NikkiGrahame #WhoIsShe."
Heartbreaking to hear Susan recalling Nikki having starting to struggle with anorexia aged 8. Can’t even imagine what Nikki went through, as well as her family 😔 #NikkiGrahame #WhoIsShe pic.twitter.com/hL6radVtI3— CH (@OfficialCWH) April 7, 2022
Another said: "The Nikki Grahame documentary is absolutely heartbreaking. My heart goes out to anyone is who struggling with an eating disorder. Awful. #nikkigrahame #whoisshe."
A fourth added: "Just watching #nikkigrahame documentary on @Channel4. It’s bought me to tears more than once. Anorexia is such a terrible disease. #whoisshe."
A fifth wrote: "This Nikki Grahame documentary is so f***ing sad. Really heartbreaking #WhoIsShe #NikkiGrahame."
#NikkiGrahame oh this is hard to watch my heart breaks for her poor mum 🥲— Charlotte rainnie (@Charlotter1986) April 7, 2022
She was by far the biggest star and most memorable character to ever enter big brother 💕⭐️
Many of those close to Grahame believe that her time in Big Brother ultimately helped ‘save’ her, explaining how much she had enjoyed her time inside the house, and the fame that followed.
Mum Sue continued: “I think Big Brother played quite a role in saving Nikki’s life, I really do. When I had seen Nikki so sick and close to death, on many occasions, it’s like her whole fortunes turned around.
“From now on, she was going to be alright. She suddenly came alive. I mean, it introduced her to a totally different world out there. She was so busy.
“I think there was a part of Nikki that never really believed or understood just how loved she was.”
Nikki’s friend Carly Cunningham also agreed that she ‘finally felt accepted’ - and for who she was, rather than her ‘illness’ - while Saligari said: “When I think about Big Brother ending, and Nikki almost being the poster girl for Big Brother, it’s a bit like, ‘Who am I, then, if what identified me is now put on the shelf and over?’”
Watch Nikki Grahame: Who Is She? on All4 now.
Warning: the documentary contains potentially triggering details about eating disorders.
If you or someone you know needs help or advice with an eating disorder, find more information via the NHS website.
You can also talk to an adviser from eating disorders charity Beat by calling their adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.
The National Centre for Eating Disorders also has a support line available on 0845 838 2040, as well as resources on its website.