Max Headroom

Max Headroom (played by Matt Frewer), was a mid-80s low-quality fragment of the digital “future.”  The phenomenon that was his career began on April 4, 1985, in England, when  Annabel Jankel, George Stone, and Rocky Morton made Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future.  The movie is about a television reporter named Edison Carter who is determined to expose the greed and corruption of a network; however, in his dashing escape to the police station, Carter suffers a serious head injury caused by striking a low-clearance sign labelled “Max. Headroom.”  The station’s solution to their missing reporter – digitally record his mind in order to create a computer-based replacement in order to hide his death.  But the program is flawed, and the new slightly obnoxious, arguably cocky, stuttering host is the man we know as Max Headroom.

People were so into the character that he actually got his own show aptly titled The Max Headroom Show.  It had a pretty solid following in the UK,  so of course execs in the states had to try him out.  Soon enough Headroom was soon all over American TV in all of his rubber-faced, computer-generated glory.  Within a few months of hopping across the pond, Mr. H-H-H-H-H-Headroom was hawking New Coke, getting interviewed by Letterman, starring in music videos, and hosting his own television show.

The show was on Cinemax, but by late 1987, he was starting to wane a little in pop culture consciousness. And then (for folks in Chicago, anyway) he became a flat-out punchline. On the night of November 22, a Max Headroom impersonator somehow pirated his way into the broadcast signal of WGN and WTTW-TV. For about 25 seconds, the hacked signal interrupted the late local news on WGN, and then, later that night, an ep of Doctor Who on WTTW was affected. So bizarre!

So, by 1988 ‘Max Fever’ had pretty much run its course, but I can’t believe it had such a long run in the first place!


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