Sci Fi TV Trifles: The Cyber-Character Max Headroom Was Actually . . . Latex?

By | May 7, 2016




Tidbits, trivia, anecdotes, little-known nuggets and more from the worlds of sci fi and fantasy television.

Cyber-personality Max Headroom took the 80’s be storm when the character starred in his own cyberpunk TV series as well as a spoof of talk shows (and also acted as the spokesperson of the much-maligned New Coke). But did you know that the character depicted onscreen, who was supposed to exist in cyberspace, was actually made of . . . latex?

max-headroomThe character of Max Headroom, brought to life by Matt Frewer, first appeared in his own talk show in the style of The Tonight Show that aired in Britain. Later, his creators decided to give him an origin which lead to the TV movie Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. This debuted in Britain and later spawned the short-lived (yet well-remembered), cyberpunk TV series that aired on ABC from 1987 to 1988. But at that time, the technology was not quite at the level needed to bring to life the computer generated character that his creators had envisioned. So what is considered by many one of the first computer animated characters was actually Matt Frewer wearing layers of latex and foam prosthetic makeup which took several hours to apply. And the shiny suit that we only saw the top half of was actually just a fiberglass mock-up that he wore. Even the background animation seen along with Max Headroom, meant to look like computer graphics, was generated with old-style, hand-drawn cell animation.

The Max Headroom television series, which was TV’s first cyberpunk show, offered a dystopian look at the near future and acted as a satire, commenting on television and technology run amok. The first season, which had only a six-episode mid-season run, proved very popular, but the show dropped in the ratings during its second season when scheduled against Dallas and Miami Vice. Thus ultimately, the show fell victim to the demands of instant ratings success, one of the very things it savaged (more on that at this link). The series has received a DVD release which includes the behind-the-scenes documentary that shows how the production crew created the onscreen Max Headroom character with latex and fiberglass.

Buy Max Headroom on DVD from Amazon.com:

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