Emmerdale's Gemma Oaten breaks down in tears live on BBC Breakfast as she pays tribute to Nikki Grahame
EMMERDALE star Gemma Oaten today broke down in tears on TV while talking about Nikki Grahame's tragic death from anorexia.
The actress, 36, endured her own 13-year battle with the eating disorder from the age of just 10.
Gemma has since co-founded the eating disorder charity SEED with her mother Marg and the pair appeared on BBC Breakfast following 38-year-old Nikki's passing.
Struggling to hold back tears, Gemma said: "I promised I wouldn't get upset. It's devastating…"
But as host Louise Minchin apologised, she continued: "No, no, no. It is what it is and we're all human.
"I think that's the point – a lot of people will be affected by this.
"38 is too young and to die from an eating disorder in 2021 when I'm 37 this year and she was 38…it's just so tragic but unfortunately this is happening.
"We need better awareness and better support. But I also want people to know that there will be a lot of people who will be triggered by this news.
"I've had – and I'm sure mum has too – so many messages and people are scared.
"What I want people to know is that there is hope as well and there is recovery, and there is a life out there. They need to speak up and be brave and seek support early on."
Big Brother star Nikki died in a private hospital in the early hours of Friday morning.
She had entered the facility to receive treatment for a 30-year-long battle with anorexia.
Nikki's desperate friends had fundraised £65,500 to start paying for what they'd hoped would be life-saving care.
Gemma spoke about her own battle with anorexia during an appearance on Loose Women last month.
Explaining the root cause, she told the panel: "I was ten years old and in hindsight I realise it was down to the bullying, I couldn't control what people were saying or doing to me but I could control what went inside me, but I didn't know that, I didn't know what anorexia or an eating disorder was.
"My parents took me to the doctor because they recognised the warning signs, god love them, but the doctor turned me away and said I wasn't low enough in weight to have a problem.
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"Cut to a year and a half later, I was admitted to a children and adolescent's psychiatric unit and told that if I didn't eat or drink within 24 hours I would be dead.
"And thus began the 13 year narrative of my life, battling, fighting for my life with an eating disorder."
Gemma added: "The heartbreaking thing for me which I remember the most is when my dad said my daughter became a shell of her former self and was in a prison and there were no bars but I couldn't get her out."
- For help and support on eating disorders and body image, you can call Beat Eating Disorders on 0808 201 1677 for adults, or 0808 801 0711 if you are under 18.
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