Friday 29 January 2021

Max Headroom and Blank Reg - The Original Cyberpunk

When I blogged about Hawk the Slayer I highlighted the always amazing William Morgan Sheppard and I just wanted to share my favourite role that he ever played:

Blank Reg

The owner and anchorman of the pirate TV Station "Big Time TV" Reg is an old punk.  He never gave up the punk DIY ethos and this has extended to everything he does.  His pirate radio station is run out of an old airstream caravan and it is not until he acquires a strange box and hooks it into his station that he hits on something big...  Max Headroom. 

What is a Blank

Reg is a Blank, someone who operates off the grid and outside the corporate identity system.  The off-grid unmentionable rebellious archetype is a popular trope featured in many sci-fi shows.  Reg plays the trope to a tee, doing things in his own maverick way despite the protestations of his long suffering wife Dominique who just wants to be able to pay the bills.  They make a classic odd couple like Stan & Hilda Ogden (Coronation Street) or George & Mildred.

Blank Reg and Dominique - Max Headroom
Blank Reg and Dominique - Max Headroom

The Meteoric Rise of Max Headroom
Max Headroom (Matt Frewer)
Max Headroom (Matt Frewer)

Max Headroom is most famously remembered as the titular glitching digital host who popped up at the end of videos on MTV.  The character had a meteoric rise and at one point in the 80s you couldn't move without seeing Max advertising this that and the other.  He certainly tapped into the zeitgeist that was the nu wave of TV shows like MTV and Sunday morning experimental yoof programming like Network 7.

This was of course entirely the result of Matt Frewer's amazing acting chops and as Mr. Tyrell says "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long" and Max burned ever so brightly.

He had two TV Shows (one in the UK and one in the US) and this UK made for TV movie.

Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future tells the story of 24 hour news reported Edison Carter (Matt Frewer) and how he stumbles upon the deadly Blip Verts.  These hyper condensed adverts are an extremely effective way to blast commercials into the brain with the unfortunate side effect that particularly sedantary viewers spontaneously combust.  

This scandalous discovery puts Carter directly in the spotlight of the evil Network 23 TV exec trying to sell the Blip Verts to unsuspecting companies.  The exec orders a hit on Carter and as a result of a motorcycle accident evading the comedy hitmen he is killed.  The teenage genius behind Blip Verts Bryce Lynch downloads Carters brain into a simulation in a box inadvertently creating Max Headroom.  

It's certainly a must watch if you are into Cyberpunk or Judge Dredd.  


  1. Hollywood remakes everything but never Max Headroom.
    Probably for the best as they'd botch it but damned if this show didn't have so much potential that it could have made an awesome movie in the right hands with the right budget.

    1. Unfortunately you spoke too soon. They're rebooting it, and I just wish they wouldn't. The same people it is meant to tear down are the ones that are gonna make it for you...