The Avengers is a spy-fi British television series created in the 1960s. The Avengers initially focused on Dr. David Keel and his assistant John Steed. Hendry left after the first series and Steed became the main character, partnered with a succession of assistants. Steed's most famous assistants were intelligent, stylish and assertive women: Cathy Gale, Emma Peel, and later Tara King. Later episodes increasingly incorporated elements of science fiction and fantasy, parody and British eccentricity. The Avengers ran from 1961 until 1969, screening as one hour episodes its entire run. The pilot episode, "Hot Snow", aired on 7 January 1961. The final Episode, "Bizarre", aired on 21 May 1969. The Avengers was produced by ABC Television, a contractor within the ITV network. After a merger in July 1968 ABC Television became Thames Television, which continued production of the series although it was still broadcast under the ABC name. By 1969 The Avengers was shown in more than 90 countries. ITV produced a sequel series The New Avengers with Patrick Macnee returning as John Steed, and two new partners.