SHE'S FUNNY AND IRREVERENT
Perhaps the single most appealing thing about Silent Witness' Nikki is how refreshingly irreverent she is. It makes her a total contrast to the detached, calm and aloof Sam Ryan (as played by Amanda Burton) who once ruled the roost in the lab. Nikki is anything but aloof. She's emotionally open and outspoken, with an infectious enthusiasm that wins people over - even when she's taking the mickey.
Think of how Leo reacted the very first time he set eyes on her, as she was breezily brushing her teeth in the mortuary sink like it was the most natural thing in the world. "Who the hell are you?" was Leo's understandably testy opener. His initial hostility bounced straight off the unflappable Nikki, even when he took her to task for possibly contaminating the area with her toothbrushing. "Mortuary," he explained. "As in evidence. Contamination thereof." Nikki's response? "I sort of know that." Wonderful.
SHE'S MORE THAN A BIT CLEVER
Let's be honest, Nikki Alexander has the kind of fresh-faced looks and bouncy youthful energy which lead people to underestimate her talents. But that would be a serious mistake. One of the compelling things about her is how she manages to be a borderline genius while being utterly casual and down-to-earth in her approach.
Consider the fact that she's not merely a keen-minded forensic pathologist with a knack for discovering the little details which can make or break murder investigations. Nope, Nikki has more strings to her bow than that. She is, for example, a forensic anthropologist as well, with special expertise in the Iron Age. It's no wonder Leo once made a quip about her transforming the mortuary into the Natural History Museum. That's the thing about Nikki: she has an insatiable mind, and we love her for it.
SHE'S OVERCOME THE ODDS
Nikki may be a beautiful, fiercely intelligent crime-solving prodigy, but she's fought to become who she is. She hasn't enjoyed the kind of charmed life that would make her seem too good to be true. One of the things we respect most about her is how she forged her own personality amid the heat of a turbulent childhood, with her father Victor having coldly ditched the family when she was a young child.
Then her mum died, and there was a huge emotional toll on the young Nikki. Yet she didn't cave in, or give up her burgeoning passion for science. Instead, she fought. And excelled. And so proved herself that she was taken under the wing of a top professor and propelled to her career as a forensics expert. (Admittedly Nikki later fell out with the professor, and was even wrongly arrested for her murder, but let's not get into that.)
SHE AND HARRY ARE ADORABLE
How could we not make special mention of Nikki's utterly adorable "will they or won't they" romance with strapping colleague Harry? It's one of the strands of Silent Witness which fans have been particularly passionate about, and with good reason. Their crackling chemistry, back-and-forth banter and lingering looks keep us on tenterhooks during so many episodes, and it's made all the more painful/addictive by the fact they never quite admit their (obvious) feelings for each other.
Even when they date other people, Nikki and Harry are the only romantic item we care about, and the way she handles him just elevates her even more in our eyes. If anyone can make the dark world of Silent Witness seem inhabitable, it's Dr Nikki Alexander.