Simon Gross has emotionally reflected on his friendship with Nikki Grahame as he opened up on the Big Brother reunion party he is hosting to raise money for eating disorder charities Beat and Seed.
The 51 year old is bringing together some of the show's most famous faces for a star-studded night in July, with money from ticket sales being split between the two charities.
Despite the night not officially being hosted in the memory of Nikki, who tragically passed away from anorexia at the age of 38 last month, Simon hopes the reality star will be remembered by friends and fans on the night as they celebrate the iconic TV show.
Speaking exclusively to OK! about the reunion party, Simon said: "I think it's time to do a reunion. I did some bits for E4 last year when they did the re-runs and I just thought it would be really good to get all of the housemates together.
"We've got Anthony Hutton, Orlaith [McAllister], Makosi [Musambasi], the legends. Alex Sibley, Penny Ellis, Eugene Sully, Lisa Appleton… we're getting them all together for one night because there's never been a proper reunion.
"I just wanted to do something special and fun, especially after the time we've had, so I called people and Paul Danan who was in Celebrity Big Brother said yeah so we're getting people from 19 years of Big Brother.
"It’s difficult to get a lot of them but we’ve got an interesting bunch of people confirmed and a lot more to hear back from."
Discussing why it is so important for Simon to raise money for eating disorder charities, Simon continued: "It's going to be a night for everybody, and we are selling tickets to the public because I wanted to raise money for a charity and I think, because of what happened to poor Nikki, we're going to be raising money for Beat with the tickets, which is the biggest charity that supports eating disorders.
"It’s not a Nikki Grahame night, I think it's too soon for that, but it's in her memory and we want to make people more aware of this illness that people don't know enough about. We're also raising money for Gemma Oaten’s charity Seed.
"It’s going to be fun, and we've been very lucky to get S Club and the Cheeky Girls and Sam Callahan from X Factor to perform, as well as Angie Brown and Ben Ofoedu, Vanessa Feltz’s husband from Phats & Small; if Nikki was there, she would love it."
Simon took the time to reflect on his friendship with Nikki during our chat, saying: "I think she was a very lonely character. She was loved but she wasn’t loved if that makes sense.
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"I miss conversations with her, I miss her moaning. That was her character, she would just moan and it would make me laugh. She would moan about everything and everybody, but that was just Nikki.
"I miss having chats with her about theatre and show business and we'd sing songs from A Chorus Line together, I miss that.
"I messaged her about a week before she passed away, I didn't actually realise how unwell she was.
"I said, 'I'm here for you with a hot water bottle and a cup of tea' because that's what I used to get her every morning in the house, and she sent me a lovely message back.
Big Brother Stars
"I just honestly cannot believe that she's not with us," he continued as he broke down in tears.
"It's just an awful, awful situation. 38, it's just terrible. I just hope people support this night and raise money for the charity and bring some happiness."
The Unofficial Big Brother Summer Reunion 2021 will take place at The Gallery Bar and Brasserie, South Woodford on 7 July.
Tickets are priced at £25 and available from The Ticket Source, with proceeds going to Beat Eating Disorders and Seed Eating Disorder Support Service.
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