Buffy The Vampire Slayer celebrates its 20th anniversary

Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar. (Pic: Sky One)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar. (Pic: Sky One)
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Cult teen TV show Buffy The Vampire Slayer celebrates its 20th anniversary today.

The US series first aired on March 10 1997 before running for seven seasons and is still hailed as a pioneer in championing a strong female lead, particularly for its target demographic.

The genre-crossing programme followed high school student Buffy Summers, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, as she tried to balance her life fighting vampires and demons with the more everyday teen troubles of heartbreak and friendships.

Buffy flipped the stereotypical female character in a horror story on its head, putting the protagonist's quest to destroy evil in her home town of Sunnydale as the main story arc.

The Joss Whedon-created series went on to influence several other shows, such as Veronica Mars, Grimm and the revived version of Doctor Who.

It was the first major television series for Whedon, who went on to work on such box office smashes as Avengers Assemble and Avengers: Age Of Ultron, as well as the TV programme Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Buffy was also the launch pad for Gellar, How I Met Your Mother actress Alyson Hannigan - who played Buffy's friend Willow - Bones actor David Boreanaz as Angel and Criminal Minds star Nicholas Brendon as Buffy's best friend Xander.

The series is also notable for starring British actor Anthony Head, who played librarian Rupert Giles, Charisma Carpenter as popular girl Cordelia, Amber Benson as Willow's love interest, Tara, and Seth Green as Daniel "Oz" Osbourne.

Buffy spawned a spin-off series, Angel, and Whedon continued the story in comic book form, publishing updates in 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2016.