Max Headroom is a fictional British artificial intelligence, known for his wit and stuttering, distorted, electronically sampled voice. The character was created by George Stone, Annabel Jankel, and Rocky Morton in the mid nineteen eighties, and portrayed by Matt Frewer as "The World's first computer generated TV host" although the computer generated appearance was achieved with prosthetic make up as the computer technology of the time was not sufficiently advanced to achieve the desired effect. Preparing the look for filming involved a four-and-a-half hour session in make up which Matt Frewer described as "a very painful, tortuous and disgusting enterprise."
The classic look for the character was a shiny dark suit - which was actually a fibreglass mould - often paired with Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses. Only his head and shoulders were depicted, usually against a "computer generated" backdrop of a slowly rotating wire-frame cube interior, which was also initially generated by analogue means - in this case traditional cell animation, though later actual computer graphics were employed for the backdrop.
The character's personality was partly intended as a satire of insincere and egotistical television personalities - what Rocky Morton described as the "very sterile, arrogant, Western personification of the middle-class, male TV host," but also was "media-wise and gleefully disrespectful" which appealed to young viewers.
Matt Frewer was chosen for his ability to improvise, and his - according to Wagg - "ideally exportable" Mid-Atlantic accent. The actor decided to model Max's personality after what he saw as the smarmy, self-important goofiness of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show's" Ted Baxter. "I particularly wanted to get that phony bonhomie of Baxter," Frewer said in an 1986 interview, "Max always assumes a decade long friendship on the first meeting. At first sight he'll ask about that blackhead on your nose."
Max Headroom originally featured as a veejay in a music video programme whose first episodes unusually featured no introductory title sequence or end credits. The show was an immediate cult hit, doubling Channel 4's viewing figures for its slot.
Later the character appeared in a feature film, a dramatic television series, television commercials and the song "Paranoimia" by the British pop act Art of Noise.
Although best remembered in the UK for his initial TV host role, the character is more associated in America for the later science fiction series that also featured him.