Nigel Hetherington is Adrian Mole's best friend since childhood. They attend the same high school and youth club, share various musical and literary tastes, and even date the same girl, Pandora, in the course of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. Nigel's family is barely described, though his father and mother are referred to as a maniac and a midget, respectively.
Nigel slowly evolves throughout the books, discovering that he is homosexual around the age of 16. He attempts to start a gay club at school, much to the dismay of headmaster Mr. Scruton. After school Nigel temporarily becomes a bald-headed Buddhist, joins the Army for a few years, then works as a van driver back in Ashby-de-la-Zouche, and later moves to London, where he develops strong links with the Gay Mafia. His mother never accepts his sexual orientation, constantly asking when he will "settle down with a nice girl."
In Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction, Nigel's eyesight deteriorates badly and he becomes legally blind (quite like Sue Townsend herself). He loses his job as a media analyst, and has to move into his parents' granny flat, where he finds himself dependent on charity. His blindness makes him quite bitter and misanthropic. He is particularly scathing in response to popular myths concerning the blind, or to protestations of sympathy. Adrian attempts to help him out by reading to him regularly, but Nigel appears ungracious; eventually, he seems to have more respect for Graham, his guide dog, than for his friend. He finds another gay, blind man called Lance, who Nigel gets married to. During their time together, Graham dies, and they have a funeral at their house for him. Adrian is forced to dig the dead dog's grave, and thinks that all the fuss over Graham is totally unnecessary.