28 April 1982
Northwood, England, United Kingdom
|Television||Big Brother 7
Big Brother 16
Ultimate Big Brother
Celebrity Coach Trip
Nicola Rachel-Beth "Nikki" Grahame (born 28 April 1982 in Watford, England) is a British model, author, columnist and television personality, who rose to fame in the UK when she was chosen to be a housemate on Big Brother 7 in 2006. Grahame's conspicuous temper tantrums divided viewer opinion during her time on Big Brother and subsequently led to her being given her own reality television show entitled Princess Nikki. Grahame won a National Television Award for Most Popular TV Contender in 2006, and featured in a series of advertisements for Domino's Pizza. As of 2007, Grahame writes a regular column in OK!'s "Hot Stars" magazine. She appeared in the tenth series of Big Brother, competing in a Silent Disco task against Karly Ashworth, as part of the Big Brother UK Tenth Anniversary Celebrations. After entering the UK Big Brother house again in 2010 she placed 2nd in Ultimate Big Brother, concluding in her becoming the penultimate Big Brother housemate. She returned to the 16th series of Big Brother in 2015.
Grahame spent some of her childhood and most of her adolescence in psychiatric hospitals, suffering from eating disorder anorexia nervosa, a condition that left her comatose and near death at the age of 12, something she has written about in two autobiographies called Dying To Be Thin — The True Story Of My Lifelong Battle Against Anorexia (2009) and Fragile — The True Story of My Lifelong Battle With Anorexia (2012).
Nikki has 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. Nikki was raised by her mother, Susan, after her parents' separation. Nikki attended Northwood School, Potter Street, Northwood Hills, London. Nikki—who has been described as a "daddy's girl"—was greatly hurt by the split.
Nikki's disorder continued to escalate until her parents had 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 continued to starve herself and several months later she 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 home. For 18 months Nikki 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.
Nikki refused to accept treatment willingly and has commented: "I was on a mission to starve myself to death...I was obsessed." This culminated in several suicide bids, when at the age of 12, she stole a packet of paracetamol from the hospital's supplies and swallowed 22 pills. Shortly after, Nikki's weight dropped so low that she fell into a coma and at one stage doctors predicted that she was minutes from death. Nikki was 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 claims that her weight subsequently dropped to 17 kg (2 st 9 lb).
Nikki 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 Nikki had increased her weight to 40 kg (6 st 4 lb) and was released from the clinic, though 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), which she still suffers from as of 2006.
In October 2011, Nikki confirmed she had relapsed and was suffering from anorexia again, stating she had checked into her 11th institution and weighed just 35 kg (5 st 7 lb).
Before Grahame rose to fame on Big Brother, she had 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 has an NVQ in beauty therapy, also took part in the 2004 Miss Hertfordshire pageant, where she came fourth. Grahame had numerous jobs before she became a celebrity, including work as a dancer and a promotions girl.
Big Brother 7
In May 2006, Grahame registered as one of the contestants on the seventh series of the Channel 4 (now Channel 5) reality television show Big Brother, where she entered the house wearing a pink playboy bunny outfit. While participating on the show she became known for her histrionics (such as temper tantrums) and becoming romantically linked to the eventual winner of Series 7, Pete Bennett.
During her stay in the Big Brother house, tabloid newspapers revealed 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. In addition, various behaviour exhibited by Grahame—such as a high susceptibility to cold; eating food with a teaspoon; looking for reassurance about her body shape and an obsessive need for bottled water—have been directly linked to her anorexia. Endemol, the company behind Big Brother, were accused of endangering their contestant’s mental state in favour of viewing figures and Deanne Jade, founder of the National Centre Of Eating Disorders, branded them "scurrilous".
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. However, 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. She was then chosen to return to the main house by the surviving contestants and despite the fact that she had already been evicted, she 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.
In conjunction, tabloid newspapers reported on a betting scandal involving Grahame, after it was revealed that thousands of pounds were staked on Grahame to win even after she was initially evicted from the show. Several mystery big cash bets were reportedly placed on Grahame at 1,000–1 after her eviction, sparking fears that insiders knew she was going back into the house and decided to cash in.
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.
Since the series' final, the Channel 4 chief, Kevin Lygo, has admitted that Big Brother executives feared Grahame would win—sparking further backlash from angry viewers. He added that the idea, which divided producers, was to spice up the "sometimes dull" final week.
"Who IS she?" rant and catchphrase
Nikki Grahame became well known for her furious Diary Room rant about fellow contestant Susie Verrico, where she dismissively repeated the phrase "Who IS she?" several times (adding, "I can feel the venom pouring out of me as I breathe"). The question "Who IS she?" has become identified with Grahame when delivered with her individualised emphasis, and has been characterised as her catchphrase, with an "Ask Jeeves" page created about it.
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 TV series similar to Simple Life was announced in which Grahame would star. 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 won a National Television Award for Most Popular TV Contender on 31 October 2006, beating former boyfriend Pete Bennett, Chantelle Houghton, Richard Fleeshman and Carol Thatcher. Grahame was the only nominee from this category who was not a reality television show winner. In addition, Grahame was the 12th most 'written about' person of 2006 in the UK, along with Pete Bennett, according to Channel 4's 2006 Fame Review, a televised poll which equates fame to newspaper column inches.
Grahame makes personal appearances, which includes 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. Grahame 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 writes her views on celebrities and recent celebrity events.
In the autumn of 2008, Grahame announced that she was writing a book called "Dying To Be Thin" to help anorexia sufferers and is thinking of making a documentary about her experiences, because she wants "young girls to know the long-term effects of anorexia, what it does to your body, to your mind, your family".
Grahame appeared during a task in Celebrity Big Brother 6 in 2009. In July 2009, Grahame entered the Big Brother house again only for a few hours to perform a task against one of the current housemates at the time. In May 2010 Grahame auditioned for a part in the Australian soap opera Neighbours as the character Poppy Rogers by sending in a video taped audition to the competition Be A Star On Neighbours.
In 2012 she appeared on Celebrity Coach Trip with fellow Big Brother 7 housemate Aisleyne. She had frequent temper tantrums on the show and received a yellow and red card which lead to her being voted off the show. She is currently appearing as a contestant in Ireland on TV3's Celebrity Salon, in which she has to learn various beauty treatments before being let loose on the public.
In April 2012, Grahame released her second book called "Fragile — The True Story of My Lifelong Battle With Anorexia". Nikki played the fairy god mother in Cinderella at the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool, where she spent Christmas. In June 2013, it was announced on Grahame's website that she would be performing in touring comedy play Up4ameet in July.
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 less 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. Grahame claimed that she wanted to be a role model to people with anorexia, so she can show people that it is possible to move on from the disorder.
Big Brother 16
On 5 June 2015, Emma Willis revealed that there would be a fake eviction on 12 June 2015 and one housemate will be sent to Big Brother 's secret "Timebomb Bunker" for 48 hours to live with three ex-housemates from the past for Big Brother 's "Time Warp" week. Grahame was one of the three ex-housemates to go back into the Big Brother house on Day 32. She was joined by Big Brother 15 winner Helen Wood and Big Brother 8 winner Brian Belo. The housemates in the Big Brother House had no idea that there was no real eviction and that one of the three housemates up for eviction (eventually revealed as Marc) would be living in the "Timebomb Bunker" with Grahame, Wood and Belo. On 14 June 2015 (Day 34), all four housemates living in the "Timebomb Bunker" entered the Main House. On Day 43, Belo chose to leave the house by jumping over the roof. On Day 44, fellow "Big Brother 7" housemate Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace entered the house. Grahame and Wood left the house on 26 June 2015, Day 46.
Grahame has spent a total of 102 days in the Big Brother House, combining 69 days in Big Brother 7, 18 days in Ultimate Big Brother and 15 days in Big Brother 16.
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 revealed that she had undergone corrective plastic surgery on her breast implants in order to fix "ripples" left by the first operation. As a result of her eating disorder, Grahame has brittle bone disease osteoporosis, as her bones did not form properly and have been left permanently weakened as a result. She takes calcium supplements and has a diet rich in dairy foods to prevent it getting worse. Grahame has stated her biggest regret is that she can never have children, she revealed that anorexia caused her to become infertile and that she has never had a period.
Grahame famously dated the winner of Big Brother 7, Pete Bennett. The duo's romance began in the last week of Big Brother, following Grahame's return to the show. However, in September 2006 she went public with the news that Bennett had made the decision to end their relationship, just over a month after it began. Bennett told her that he found it tough having a relationship in the spotlight and just wanted to be friends.
Grahame began dating Guy Mesigan, a part-time model and carpenter, at the end of 2006. They split up in May 2007. In February 2009, Grahame was injured in a car accident; she suffered cracked ribs and required stitches on her head. Grahame was in the back seat of the car and was thrown forwards when the car braked. Grahame wasn't wearing a seatbelt, her agent said, "There was blood everywhere. It was a nasty crash".
In April 2012 Grahame revealed that she had relapsed into anorexia. Grahame told the media in July 2012 that she had been sectioned in hospital for an unknown amount of time in April 2012 after overdosing on pills in an attempt to stay thin.
In March 2014, Grahame revealed that she was moving abroad to France as she begrudged being recognized in public. In January 2015, Grahame revealed to Closer magazine that she had returned to the UK and had moved abroad the previous year to beat her anorexia.
Awards and nominations
|2006||National Television Awards||Most Popular TV contender||Winner|
- Dying To Be Thin — The True Story Of My Lifelong Battle Against Anorexia, 7 May 2009, John Blake Publishing ISBN 978-1-84454-743-2
- Dodelijk dun (Fatal Thin) - Dutch translation by Catherine Smit, November 2009, The House of Books ISBN 978-90-443-2528-7
- Fragile — The True Story of My Lifelong Battle With Anorexia, 2012 ISBN 9781857829631
- England and Wales Birth Index, 1837-1983; district Brent, volume 11, page 1494, quarter April/May/June
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