La Femme Nikita (TV series)

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La Femme Nikita
Also known asNikita
Based onNikita by Luc Besson
Developed byJoel Surnow
Theme music composerMark Snow
ComposerSean Callery
Country of origin
  • Canada
  • United States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes96 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
ProducerJamie Paul Rock
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time45–48 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseJanuary 13, 1997 (1997-01-13) –
March 4, 2001 (2001-03-04)
Nikita (2010–2013)

La Femme Nikita (French pronunciation: [la fam nikita], literally "The Woman Nikita"; called Nikita in Canada) is a Canadian action-drama television series based on the French film Nikita by Luc Besson. The series stars Peta Wilson as the title character. It was co-produced by Jay Firestone of Fireworks Entertainment and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. It was adapted for television by Joel Surnow. The series was telecast in the United States on the USA Network cable channel on January 13, 1997, and ran for five seasons until March 4, 2001. The series was also aired in Canada on the over-the-air CTV Television Network. La Femme Nikita was the highest-rated drama on American basic cable during its first two seasons. It was also distributed in some other countries.

Comparison with the film[edit]

In the original Luc Besson film—and in the American remake Point of No Return (also released as The Assassin), released by Warner Bros.—Nikita is a drug-addicted juvenile delinquent who kills a police officer in cold blood during an attempted robbery of a pharmacy. She is later arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in Nikita, and to death by lethal injection in Point of No Return, upon which she was secretly drugged by the government, faking her death. Nikita is then "recruited" by a secret government organization and transformed into a highly skilled assassin who cannot be traced.

The television series differs from the film versions in one fundamental aspect: Nikita (Peta Wilson) is innocent. She is not a killer, nor a drug user, just a homeless young woman in the wrong place at the wrong time. Section One—an elite, top-secret counter-terrorism organization—sets Nikita up to be accused of murdering a police officer and sentenced to life in prison where she supposedly commits suicide and is brought into Section One. Because Nikita will be killed (or "cancelled") if she fails to comply, she is forced to carry out the organization's ruthless methods of fighting terrorism, while attempting to keep her moral integrity intact. This personal struggle becomes the primary conflict of the series. A key scene in the two theatrical films involves Nikita's first assignment—to murder a VIP in a crowded restaurant. Although the Nikita of the television series eventually does become, by necessity, a ruthless killer, in the television version of this first mission she avoids killing the VIP (whereas the film versions of the character completes the assignment). However, despite the machinations of others in power around her, Nikita retains her compassion and humanity.

Over time, Nikita's secretive and risky romantic involvement with her trainer, the mysterious Michael Samuelle (Roy Dupuis), will become another source of conflict, and the series' most significant relationship. Just before the conclusion of the series, Nikita also learns the truth of why she was recruited into Section One.

Cast and characters[edit]

Characters are listed in order of title credit and by appearance on the show.

  = Main cast (credited)
  = Recurring cast (2+)
  = Guest cast (1)
Actor Character Seasons
1 2 3 4 5
Main cast
Peta Wilson Nikita Main
Roy Dupuis Michael Samuelle Main Recurring
Don Francks Walter Main
Matthew Ferguson Seymour Birkoff Main
Eugene Robert Glazer Operations (Paul Wolfe) Main
Alberta Watson Madeline Main Guest
Cindy Dolenc Katherine “Kate” Quinn Recurring Main
Recurring cast
Anais Granofsky Carla Recurring
Julian Richings Errol Sparks Guest Guest
Ingrid Veninger Siobhan Lawrence Guest Guest
Carlo Rota Mick Schtoppel / "Mr. Jones" / Reginald “Martin” Henderson Guest Recurring
Nigel Bennett Egran Petrosian Guest
Douglas O’Keefe David Fanning Guest
Yvonne Scio Lisa Fanning Guest
Tara Slone Gail Guest Recurring
Lindsay Collins Devo One (Elizabeth) Guest Recurring Guest
James Faulkner Dominic Guest Guest
Stephen Shellen Marco O’Brien Guest Recurring
Bruce Payne Jurgen Recurring
Jill Dyck Belinda Recurring
Roman Podhora Mowen Recurring
Kris Lemche Greg Hillinger Guest Recurring Guest
Siân Phillips Adrian Recurring Recurring
David Hemblen George Recurring
Evan Caravela Adam Recurring
Samia Shoaib Elena Recurring
Josh Holliday Devo Two (Henry)1 Recurring Guest
Lawrence Bayne Davenport Guest Recurring
Matthew Ferguson Jason Crawford Recurring
Larissa Gomes Naomi Hill Recurring
Kira Clavell Jasmine Kwong Guest Recurring
Polly Shannon Michelle Recurring
Edward Woodward Mr. Jones (Philip) / "Flavius" Recurring
Aidan Devine Graff Recurring
Conrad Coates Haled Recurring
  1. ^ For the first two seasons, Devo Two was portrayed by two different uncredited extras.


  • Peta Wilson as Nikita: The show's central protagonist and titular character, Nikita was falsely accused of killing a police officer and sentenced to life in prison, only to be forcibly recruited by Section One and trained as a spy and assassin. Her compassion and sympathy constantly conflict with the ruthless orders she is given, and this endears her to the majority of the people she works with, including Walter, Birkoff, and Michael, who eventually becomes her love interest.
  • Roy Dupuis as Michael Samuelle: A former radical student activist-turned-coldly efficient assassin, as well as Section’s top mission team leader. At first alternately cruel and compassionate toward Nikita, he eventually falls in love with her, and repeatedly puts his life on the line to protect her.
  • Eugene Robert Glazer as Operations: The often ruthless head of Section One, and the show’s main antagonist for the majority of the series. He exercises considerable geopolitical power, which places him in conflict with the hierarchy above Section on multiple occasions. Later in the series, it is revealed that his real identity is Lieutenant Paul L. Wolfe, who was forcibly recruited into Section after serving in the Vietnam War.
  • Alberta Watson as Madeline: Section One’s executive strategist, responsible for the psychological conditioning of all operatives, as well as the extraction of critical intel from captured terrorists—using torture if necessary. Madeline eventually becomes the show’s secondary antagonist, as she and Operations expend considerable Section resources to keep Nikita and Michael apart, as they perceive their romantic and professional partnership to be a threat to their power.
  • Matthew Ferguson as Seymour Birkoff: Section One’s youthful head of Comm, who supervises mission operations in progress. Late in the series, he learns that he is one of two twin boys born to a Section operative, with the other—Jason Crawford—living on the outside as part of a psychological comparison implemented by Section. Crawford is later recruited into Section. Ferguson played both roles.
  • Don Francks as Walter: Head of Munitions, he is responsible for creating and providing all weapons, gadgets, and tools needed for use on various missions. As one of the oldest Section operatives, he is initially flirtatious with Nikita, but eventually becomes a trusted confidante. Although one of Birkoff’s closest friends, their relationship is strained when Birkoff discovers Walter's role in the aforementioned psychological comparison.
  • Cindy Dolenc as Katherine “Kate” Quinn: Late in the series, she becomes Birkoff’s replacement as head of Comm, and is forced to endure the newly-recruited Jason Crawford’s romantic affections, while at the same time scheming to take the place of Madeline.


  • Anais Granofsky as Carla (seasons 1–2), Nikita's neighbor, later revealed to be one of Adrian's operatives.
  • Julian Richings as Errol Sparks (seasons 1, 3), the leader of terrorist group Glass Curtain, responsible for the capture of Michael's first wife Simone.
  • Ingrid Veninger as Siobhan Lawrence (seasons 1, 3), Glass Curtain's second-in-command.
  • Carlo Rota as Mick Schtoppel (seasons 1–4) / "Mr. Jones" (seasons 4–5 ) / Reginald "Martin" Henderson (Season 5), a greenlisted informant, later revealed to be "Mr. Jones", the head of Center, the organization above Oversight that directs all Sections. Later, Mr. Jones is revealed to be another cover identity for actor Henderson.
  • Nigel Bennett as Egran Petrosian (seasons 1–2), former deep cover operative who is later briefly in charge of Section One.
  • Douglas O'Keefe as David Fanning (seasons 1–2), a terrorist hit man later recruited into Section One.
  • Yvonne Scio as Lisa Fanning (seasons 1–2), David's wife and victim of his marital abuse. Also recruited into Section One.
  • Tara Slone as Gail (seasons 1–2), Section One operative and Birkoff's girlfriend.
  • Lindsay Collins as Devo One alias Elizabeth (seasons 1–5), a White Room operative used to torture uncooperative terrorists.
  • James Faulkner as Dominic (seasons 1, 3), who tortured Nikita and Michael when they were captured by the terrorist group Red Cell.
  • Stephen Shellen as Marco O'Brien (seasons 1, 5), a former police detective recruited into Section One; later became Michael's replacement.
  • Bruce Payne as Jurgen (season 2), a high-ranking operative in Spec Ops, who evaluated Nikita upon her return to Section One.
  • Jill Dyck as Belinda (season 2), an abeyance operative who became Walter's fiancé.
  • Roman Podhora as Mowen (season 2), a Section One team leader.
  • Kris Lemche as Greg Hillinger (seasons 2–4), Birkoff's rival in Section One, later revealed to be a mole for Oversight.
  • Siân Phillips as Adrian (seasons 2, 4), the "Mother" of Section One, who sought to depose Operations with the help of Nikita.
  • David Hemblen as George (seasons 3–4), the head of Oversight, former lover of Adrian and enemy of Operations.
  • Samia Shoaib as Elena (seasons 3–4), Michael's wife as part of a "blood cover" mission to capture her father, a terrorist.
  • Evan Caravela as Adam (seasons 3–5), Michael's son with Elena.
  • Josh Holliday as Devo Two alias Henry (seasons 3–5), Devo One's White Room partner.
  • Lawrence Bayne as Davenport (seasons 3–4), a Section One team leader loyal to Operations.
  • Larissa Gomes as Naomi Hill (season 4), Jason Crawford's girlfriend and Section One "valentine operative."
  • Kira Clavell as Jasmine Kwong (seasons 4–5), young recruit turned Section One operative.
  • Polly Shannon as Michelle (season 5), Mr. Jones' mysterious secretary, and Nikita's sister.
  • Edward Woodward as Mr. Jones alias Philip, codename "Flavius" (season 5), the true head of Center and Nikita's father.
  • Aidan Devine as Graff (season 5), leader of terrorist "supergroup" the Collective.
  • Conrad Coates as Haled (season 5), the Collective's second-in-command.

Broadcasting history[edit]

Ratings success[edit]

La Femme Nikita was the number-one drama on basic cable channel USA Network for its first two seasons.[1] It had been "greenlighted" by the network's founder and "cable network pioneer" Kay Koplovitz and nurtured by former USA Network president Rod Perth, a "key player" in its development.[2] But, after Barry Diller assumed control of the network in April 1998, he replaced Perth with Stephen Chao as network president.[1] Heyn observed, "Although both Diller and Chao praised La Femme Nikita publicly, it soon became obvious that the series was no longer a priority. The non-stop publicity the series enjoyed under Perth began to dry up, and the only attention that La Femme Nikita received was the occasional promo spot, and even the frequency of those began to decline."[1] During Nikita's third season, following Chao's "bizarre request that La Femme Nikita cast wrestlers in key terrorist roles as a way to cross-promote USA's broadcasts of the World Wrestling Entertainment" despite evidence that the shows did not have compatible demographics, Chao also began retooling USA Network's successful "Sunday Night Heat" bloc of action dramas, which also included Pacific Blue and Silk Stalkings; he canceled Silk Stalkings and replaced it with a slate of new series that included The War Next Door, G vs. E, Manhattan, Arizona and Cover Me, all of which ultimately failed in the ratings and were also canceled.[1] Consequently, La Femme Nikita tumbled in the ratings too, although the series still remained the top-rated drama on USA Network, even during its fourth season, when promotional advertisements for the series all but disappeared.[1] Negotiations to continue Nikita for a fifth season and beyond failed owing to "disagreements between USA Network and Warner Bros. over La Femme Nikita's renewal terms[,] [which] spilled out publicly into the pages of [industry trade publications] Variety and The Hollywood Reporter."[1]

"Save LFN"[edit]

Following the series' cancellation in 2000, its dedicated viewers mounted an extensive fan campaign to revive it. "Save LFN"[3] was not the first successful fan campaign to use the internet to rally fans and renew a canceled series. "These kinds of efforts had resurrected canceled series before, beginning with the original Star Trek on NBC in 1968 all the way up to UPN's Roswell in 2000".[1] However, "Save LFN" is notable for its size and inventiveness, including an "online renewal petition" which led to a full-page advertisement placed in The Hollywood Reporter that requested USA Network and Warner Bros. reconsider their decision. The campaign also amassed over 25,000 letters sent to both companies containing everything from dollar bills featuring images of co-star Roy Dupuis to sunglasses (Nikita's signature accessory) to old TVs, VCRs, and remote controls.[1][4] A group of organizers calling themselves "First Team", based on the term for the lead members of a mission used frequently in the series, coordinated most of these efforts through their Save LFN fansite.[1][4] As a result of these efforts, Stephen Chao announced in September 2000 that La Femme Nikita would return for a truncated fifth season of eight new episodes, which began airing in January 2001.[1][4]

Naming Convention[edit]

In La Femme all the episodes had the same number of words in their titles as the series number. All episodes in series 1 had one word titles, in series 2 two word titles and so on. [1] [2]

CW series[edit]

On January 28, 2010, it was reported that The CW Television Network would develop a new TV pilot based loosely on the French film Nikita. The new show, which shares its name with the film, is executive-produced by McG, with Peter Johnson and Craig Silverstein serving as executive producers and writers. It is a joint production with Warner Bros. Studios and Wonderland Productions.[5] On May 18, 2010, it was picked up to series.


Home media[edit]

The complete series is available on DVD through Warner Bros. Home Video.[6] The box sets use the USA/international title, La Femme Nikita.[6]

Each DVD boxed set features a solitary image of Peta Wilson on the cover, with the remainder of the cast featured on the interior artwork. Only the covers for seasons one and five feature images of Wilson taken specifically as promotional photographs (for advertising campaigns and later marketing purposes) during those seasons. The DVD cover images for seasons two and three again feature promotional photographs used during the first season, while season four features a promotional photograph from advertisements for the second season.

  • Season Two was originally scheduled for release on July 20, 2004,[7] but it was delayed for two years due to a confusion in music licensing.[6] Warner Bros. was unable to license the song "Loaded Gun" by Hednoize, featured in the episode "Off Profile."[citation needed] (Some websites have claimed that the song in question was from Garbage, but that is incorrect.) This was eventually resolved by replacing the song with another piece of music. A small number of Season Two box sets were distributed and sold in 2004 with "Loaded Gun" before it was withdrawn from store shelves and internet sales sites, and these sets are considered collectors' items.[citation needed]


An official soundtrack, released in June 1998, is still available on CD from TVT Records. It features the title theme from composer Mark Snow, as well as numerous songs heard during the first two seasons of the show from artists like Depeche Mode and Afro Celt Sound System.[8] A "promotional release" in a limited run of 2000 CDs of Emmy-award winning composer Sean Callery's selections from his orchestral score for Nikita was first made available by Callery during the Close Quarters Standby 4 fan convention in May 2001.[9]

Series merchandise[edit]

According to Christopher Heyn, "To many long-time viewers, La Femme Nikita had always been a natural for merchandising. Besides the usual array of T-shirts, jackets, coffee mugs, posters and other trinkets, the action content of the series lends itself perfectly to the development of video games, comic books, toys and action figures. Yet, during the entire run of the series, Warner Bros. released only one piece of merchandise—the soundtrack CD on TVT Records. Beyond that, there was nothing. This frustrated [former president of USA Network and key player in the series' development] Rod Perth to no end."(20) Heyn quotes Perth as saying: "'Warner Bros. never had an interest in this show ...'" (20). Nevertheless, Heyn reports, he himself "successfully brokered an official merchandising agreement between the Specialty Products division, a vendor in Toronto that already produced merchandise for the series' cast and crew, and the Sidekicks Society, the organizers of Close Quarters Standby 2", the second in a series of four La Femme Nikita fan conventions held in Toronto in October 1999.(Heyn 20) Such items included jackets, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and key chains emblazoned with the series logo and the copyright notice "©1999, Warner Bros." below the logo (photograph in Heyn 21). "Because of a delivery mixup," Heyn's photo caption reads, "most of the coffee mugs and keychains never made it to the convention in time for sale," and he adds, "The remaining boxes of jackets, T-shirts and coffee mugs sold out in less than an hour, leaving many empty-handed attendees frustrated and upset."(21) Moreover, Heyn observes, "That unfortunate outcome only validated Warner Bros.' reticence to merchandise La Femme Nikita on a larger scale. The studio lost money on the internet broadcast and made next to nothing from the limited merchandising deal, which echoed their attitude toward the series' financial construction."(Heyn 20)

In 2001, a video game based on Nikita—featuring dialogue written by La Femme Nikita supervising producer Peter Lenkov—was announced for the Xbox system, but the project was later cancelled.[10]

Critical response[edit]

On Metacritic, the first season received a score of 68/100 based on 7 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[11] Andrea Higbie, writing for The New York Times said, "The show, which has received good reviews in publications including New York magazine, USA Today and The New York Times, is like a long MTV video, with few words but lots of music and action."[12] Tom Gliatto, writing for People, gave the first season a B+, and commented, "Peta Wilson, an Australian actress with the harsh blonde hair, snub nose and oversize, depthless blue eyes of your average mass-produced doll, makes a sexy, amusing Nikita."[13] Todd Everett, writing for Variety, said, "What was stylish in original version here becomes muddy and confusing attempt at MTV cutting and loud electronic soundtrack, and title may leave many USA watchers, accustomed to more conventional (and arguably superior) Renegade, Silk Stalkings and The Big Easy, confused. [...] Locations are nondescript, with darkish production design and lighting suggestive of some unnamed European country."[14]

The second season received a 7/10 score from Sergio Non, who wrote for IGN: "It's dark, esoteric and morbid, offering up one dose of suffering after another. I couldn't stop watching."[15]

Awards and nominations[edit]

CableACE Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominee Result Ref.
1997 Guest Actor in a Dramatic Special or Series - "Gambit" Harris Yulin Nominated [16]

Gemini Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominee Result Ref.
1998 (March) Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role Peta Wilson Nominated [17]
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series - "Noise" Matthew Ferguson Nominated
Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series - "Innocent" Maury Chaykin Won
Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series - "Rescue" Nancy Beatty Won
Best Direction in a Dramatic Series - "Gambit" Jon Cassar Nominated
Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Dramatic Program or Series - "Noise" Rocco Matteo Nominated
Best Costume Design - "Noise" Laurie Drew Nominated
1998 (October) Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series - "New Regime" Alberta Watson Nominated
Best Photography in a Dramatic Program or Series - "Spec Ops" Nikos Evdemon Nominated
Best Costume Design - "New Regime" Laurie Drew Won
Chrysler's Canada's Choice Award Jamie Paul Rock, Jay Firestone Won
1999 Best Dramatic Series Jamie Paul Rock, Jay Firestone Nominated
Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role Peta Wilson Nominated
Best Costume Design - "Off Profile" Laurie Drew Nominated
Best Overall Sound in a Dramatic Program or Series - "Looking for Michael" Daniel Latour, Scott Shepherd, Al Ormerod, Steve Baine Nominated
2000 Best Costume Design - "Getting Out of Reverse" Laurie Drew Nominated
Best Overall Sound in a Dramatic Program or Series - "Sympathy for the Devil" Daniel Latour, Scott Shepherd, Al Ormerod Won
Best Sound Editing in a Dramatic Program or Series - "Sympathy for the Devil" Craig Henighan, Steve Baine, Jill Purdy, Rose Gregoris Nominated

OFTA Television Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominee Result Ref.
1998 Best Actress in a Cable Series Peta Wilson Nominated [18]
Best Direction in a Cable Series Nominated
Best Sound in a Series Nominated
1999 Best Guest Actress in a Cable Series Margot Kidder Nominated [19]
Sian Phillips Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Heyn
  2. ^ Heyn 21-23; 5
  3. ^ "LFN" refers to La Femme Nikita, the title of the series as televised in the United States and in other international markets outside Canada.
  4. ^ a b c "Careers That Won't Quit: 'La Femme' Again",, January 1, 2001 (December 29, 2000), accessed June 23, 2007.
  5. ^ Hibberd, James (2010-01-27). "New 'Nikita' set for CW". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Hofstede, David (2006). "La Femme Nikita (1997–2001)". 5000 Episodes and No Commercials: The Ultimate Guide to TV Shows On DVD (1st ed.). New York: Back Stage Books. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-8230-8456-2.
  7. ^ Foster, Dave (8 April 2004). "La Femme Nikita Season 2 in July". DVD Times. Archived from the original on October 27, 2004. Retrieved April 10, 2007.
  8. ^ "TVT Records page for La Femme Nikita soundtrack". Archived from the original on June 4, 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-10.
  9. ^ " listing of La Femme Nikita soundtrack by Sean Callery". Retrieved 2007-04-10.
  10. ^ " news article on the cancellation of the La Femme Nikita video game". Archived from the original on March 5, 2002. Retrieved 2007-04-10.
  11. ^ "La Femme Nikita - Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  12. ^ Higbie, Andrea (9 March 1997). "Making the Femme Just a Bit Less Fatale: The New Nikita Is a Killer, but Sweeter". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  13. ^ Gliatto, Tom (3 February 1997). "Picks and Pans Review: La Femme Nikita". People. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  14. ^ Everett, Todd (12 January 1997). "La Femme Nikita". Variety. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  15. ^ Non, Sergio (16 March 2005). "La Femme Nikita: The Complete Second Season". IGN. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  16. ^ Variety Staff (24 September 1997). "CableAce Nominations". Variety. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  17. ^ "awards database". Archived from the original on 25 November 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  18. ^ "2nd Annual TV Awards (1997-98) - Online Film & Television Association". Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  19. ^ "3rd Annual TV Awards (1998-99) - Online Film & Television Association". Retrieved 25 November 2016.


  • Heyn, Christopher. Inside Section One: Creating and Producing TV's La Femme Nikita. Intro. Peta Wilson. Los Angeles: POV Press, 2006. ISBN 0-9787625-0-9.

External links[edit]