Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future

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Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future
Directed by Rocky Morton
Annabel Jankel
Produced by Peter Wagg
Written by George Stone
Steve Roberts
Starring Matt Frewer
Nickolas Grace
Amanda Pays
W. Morgan Sheppard
Roger Sloman
Hilary Tindall
Music by Midge Ure
Chris Cross
Cinematography Phil Meheux
Edited by Michael Bradsell
Distributed by Virgin
Release dates
4 April 1985
Running time
57 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future is a 1985 cyberpunk television movie created by Chrysalis Visual Programming Ltd. for Channel 4 in the UK to provide a back story for Max Headroom, a computer generated TV host. A British produced, yet American broadcast, television series, Max Headroom, was later developed from the original film.[1]


The film introduces Edison Carter (Matt Frewer), a television reporter trying to expose corruption and greed. In the movie, reporter Carter discovers that his employer, Network 23, has created a new form of subliminal advertising (termed "blipverts") that can be fatal to certain viewers.

While attempting to flee the network headquarters with proof, Edison suffers a serious head injury, caused by striking a low-clearance sign labelled "Max. Headroom". Believing him killed, the network's chief executive orders Bryce Lynch, an adolescent genius working as a scientist for Network 23, to digitally record Carter's mind. The recording will then be used to create a computer-based replacement for Carter in order to hide his death.

However, Bryce's programme is flawed and apparently broken — burbling "Max Headroom" over and over again (from the last object Carter saw before being knocked out, and the first thing the albeit-primitive Max says while twitching into what would become his smooth latex form). Bryce instructs his hired goons to dispose of both Carter and his virtual clone, but they simply sell them on — Carter to a body bank, and the machine copy to pirate television station ("Big Time") owner Blank Reg.

After a bit of nurturing from Reg, the resulting program achieves a somewhat eccentric life of its own, crackling out rapid fire gags, hosting his own show, and sending Reg's ratings through the roof.

Meanwhile, a merely unconscious Carter escapes from becoming a premature organ donor. With the help of colleague Theora Jones (Amanda Pays), and the distraction provided by Max, Carter eventually defeats Network 23.

Television series[edit]

After this film was made, an American television series was developed titled Max Headroom. It lasted fourteen episodes during the 1987 - 1988 television season. It was broadcast on ABC. For at least the first episode, some footage from the original Channel 4 movie was used, while other scenes were reshot with American actors. Jeffrey Tambor was cast as Edison's boss Murray, in the American version. Pablo Cruise keyboardist Cory Lerios provided the theme.

The first six episodes (Season 1) were released on VHS and LaserDisc in Japan by RCA/Columbia Home Video Japan (now Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) shortly after ABC cancelled the show. It was released on DVD by Shout! Factory on 10 August 2010,[2] although this set does not contain the original 20 Minutes Into the Future film.[3]

Max Headroom was adapted and used in 1987 by the American cable channel Cinemax for their own Max Headroom Show called The Original Max Talking Headroom Show.


External links[edit]