The Avengers is a British spy-fi British television series created in the 1960s. The Avengers initially focused on Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry) and his assistant John Steed (Patrick Macnee). 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 (Honor Blackman), Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), and later Tara King (Linda Thorson). 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 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.