Davina McCall and Pete Bennett remember Big Brother star Nikki Grahame

Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter
·3-min read

Davina McCall has described Nikki Grahame as “iconic” following her “really tragic” death at the age of 38.

The former Big Brother host, 53, shared a tribute on Twitter on Saturday but posted a second message on Instagram on Sunday, admitting she had initially struggled to find the correct words for the moment.

She wrote: “It felt odd that I had posted something on Twitter and not on here.

“I’ve typed and deleted three times… I can’t find the words… it’s just really tragic.

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“She was iconic. In the true sense of the word.

“Whose catch phrases will be with me forever.

“Sending so much love to her friends and family. I’m so sorry. The pain you and she must have endured.”

Grahame, originally from Northwood in London, had recently received treatment for an eating disorder at a specialist clinic following a fundraising campaign organised by friends and fans.

The Gofundme.com campaign had raised more than £69,000 since its launch on March 10, with organisers saying they had “exhausted every avenue possible”.

Fellow Big Brother 7 housemate Pete Bennett, who Grahame formed a relationship with on the show in 2006, also shared a tearful video addressing her death.

National Television Awards 2006 – The Royal Albert Hall – Arrivals
Pete Bennett (Ian West/PA)

In the clip posted to Instagram, he said: “I thought to myself, yeah, we could save her. But we didn’t.”

He added: “We have lost a true character. Our series just wouldn’t have been the same without her.”

Holding up a bottle of wine, he concluded: “We really love you Nikki. You were a true winner. You were great.

“You f****** rocked it babes. Just want to say, we’ll miss you babe. See you later Nikki.”

Grahame’s death was confirmed by her representative on Saturday.

The statement said: “It is with immeasurable sadness that Nikki Grahame passed away in the early hours of Friday April 9 2021.”

Grahame appeared on the seventh series of the reality TV show in 2006, and despite finishing fifth became one of its most recognisable contestants.

She subsequently secured her own show, Princess Nikki, won a National Television Award for most popular TV contender and published two books, the autobiographies Dying To Be Thin and Fragile.

In her books, Grahame detailed how she developed anorexia while still a teenager and struggled with the condition throughout her life, spending time in hospital on a number of occasions.

Following her stint in the Big Brother house, she often spoke publicly about her battle with the eating disorder.

Her mother Sue Grahame told This Morning last week that her daughter’s condition deteriorated after the gyms closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement on the Gofundme.com page said: “It is with great sadness, we have to let you know that our dear friend Nikki passed away in the early hours of Friday April 9.

“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.”

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Prior to finding fame on Big Brother, Grahame, then an aspiring actress, appeared as an extra in the BBC soap opera EastEnders and played a footballer’s wife in Sky One’s Dream Team.

She also appeared as a contestant on ITV dating show Blind Date and competed in the 2004 Miss Hertfordshire pageant.