Max: Interviews & Appearances
- 1 Television Interviews
- 2 Other TV & Film Appearances
- 3 Print Interviews
Max was formally interviewed as a guest on another host's show at least twice. These are the two most famous incidences. There may be other brief ones for television news and entertainment shows, not yet located.
Terry Wogan Interview (1985)
Terry Wogan is an extremely well-known presenter and interviewer whose programs have been seen and heard on BBC television and radio since 1971. In 1985 (date uncertain), Wogan interviewed Max on his show Wogan.
The interview began with a shot of a complaining Max being carried in - in his travel-TV box - from a curbside limousine. When Wogan began the interview, Max was solidly asleep and snoring.
Terry Wogan interviews Max (1985)
David Letterman Interview (1986)
On July 17, 1986, American late-night host David Letterman interviewed Max on his show. This may have been the first time many in the general US audience saw Max as himself, since not everyone had cable, MTV (where the Paranoimia video was in regular rotation) or Cinemax. Most were probably familar with him through the Coke commercials that had begun earlier in the year, or general TV-culture influence, but many had never actually seen Max... be Max.
Once again, Max began the interview by pretending to be asleep - which may have been as much a technical issue as a performance, allowing the video to come up with Max in a natural "hold" state without trying to cue in TV warmup, technical processing, audio links etc.
After a slightly smutty joke about having "a soggy dream, big fella... there's oil everywhere!" Letterman banters with Max for almost eight minutes in an exchange that meets his best scripted work on his own shows. Most of Letterman's questions are about Max's details, and Max deflects them with his best humor and style.
David Letterman interviews Max (1986)
(Long clip; Max begins at 14:12)
There is an interesting technical glitch when Max's audio cuts out... and we can hear him yelling from somewhere offstage until the glitch is fixed. (That would go on IMDb as a "Revealing Mistake.") A technician also has to sneak onto the set to adjust Max's monitor at one point. It is possible that the entire appearance, glitches, miscues and all, was affected by Max having to make his appearance early in the show, to make up for Grace Jones being late to the studio (which both he and Letterman joke about).
There is also a rumor that Frewer is briefly visible backstage, possibly in part of his Max makeup and costume, but edited video of the show does not contain such a glimpse.
Both Grace Jones and Letterman's bandleader Paul Shaffer would appear about a year later on the final Cinemax season of The Max Headroom Show. Letterman would self-parody Max's visit later by styling his house jester as "Larry Bud Headroom."
Other TV & Film Appearances
Max made a number of brief appearances on TV other than on his own shows. This list is believed to be complete.
Max in The Art of Noise's "Paranoimia" video (1986)
The Art of Noise, "Paranoimia" video,
with Max Headroom on vocals.
One of the stranger entries in Max Headroom's c.v. is his vocal and video appearance in a recut version of the dance club song "Paranoimia," by British techno group The Art of Noise. (The title is said to be a mash-up of "paranoia" and "insomnia.")
Art of Noise was a popular synth/pop/techno band in the mid-1980s and had just released their album "In Visible Silence," which included an almost vocal-free 4:46 version of "Paranoimia." For reasons that are a bit murky, but probably connect through the group being on a Chrysalis-distributed label, the song was recut into two versions with Max providing vocal inserts (not singing).
The most widely known version was a 3:18 cut released as a 7-inch single (on vinyl... that's an obsolete nonvolatile storage medium, kids), and backing what became a very popular video - a combination of Max, club music and freaky imagery.
The Art of Noise, "Paranoimia" extended cut,
with Max Headroom on vocals (audio only).
An extended club/dance version was also released as a 12-inch 6:42 single. This version has a different set of Max vocals that are in part club MC calls.
There may be yet other cuts of this combo, as there are references in some listings to Max "introducing the band" in signature style that are not heard on either of the above versions.
There are several connections between Art of Noise and Max Headroom's shows. One is that the group was known for their use of the Fairlight sampler, which could sample other sounds and inject them into the track via the synthesizer. (Like Peter Frampton's vocalizer, used on "Do You Feel Like I Do" in the same era, there was a brief fad for this kind of injected sampling. Sampling in various forms is of course still widely used in dance and hip-hop tracks.) The Fairlight company is credited in the credits for the second season of the ABC series, for contributions that are not clear.
The third season of The Max Headroom Show credits "Matt Forrest / Art of Noise" with the titles. It appears that the group performed the show's theme tune, while Matt Forrest was the visuals artist.
Tina Turner specials (1986/1987)
Max introduces Tina Turner in concert.
Max returned the favor of Tina Turner appearing on his Christmas Special by appearing briefly on hers, "Tina!," which aired in the UK on 28 December 1986.
This show appears to have been re-run, in all or part, as the HBO special "Tina Turner: Break Every Rule" on 14 March 1987. Descriptions of the latter show have Tina performing at Club Zero in London, where she is introduced by Max Headroom, so it can be assumed that there's a connection. (As we've seen from the Channel Four-Cinemax connections on The Max Headroom Show, there was as much popular-program co-production in this era as in any later epoch of PBS/BBC/Masterpiece Theater programming.)
There are no video clips or further information about the UK show. The clip at right is from the US broadcast.
Max on Sesame Street (1988)
Max on Sesame Street.
Max appeared in episode 2478 of the long-running children's show Sesame Street (4 May 1988) to recite the alphabet in characteristic style. The clip was re-run at least once, in episode 2499 (8 Dec 1988).
Comic Relief/Red Nose Day: "A Night of Comic Relief 2" (1989)
Max Headroom was one of dozens of comedians and celebrities to appear on the second Comic Relief fundraising special, on 10 Mar 1989. Other than the following ads, this is believed to be the last television appearance of Max Headroom.
Although many video clips from this telethon are available, none of Max's appearance appear to exist. It is possible that an edited stream of prior material was used, rather than a new appearance.
Channel Four "Get Ready for Digital" ads (2007)
Kind of in between advertising and an "appearance," so they're worth mentioning here.
- See: Max: Advertising.
UK "Deal or No Deal" (2008)
Max appears to have made one final appearance on TV in 2008, as the "banker" in an episode of the UK iteration of the globally copied game show "Deal or No Deal" (broadcast by Channel Four). He was shown in the "old Max" makeup and prosthetics from the Channel Four "Get Ready for Digital" ads. However, it was recently discovered to be a fan creation.
Max on Deal or No Deal.
This clip was posted on YouTube on May 27, 2008, so it was created at just about the time the Channel Four ads were running. For some time, I thought it might be an authentic clip from this UK television show, collateral advertising for the digital changeover, as it were. In late 2019 I was contacted by a relative of the clip editor and assured it was the work of a very young fan mastering the art of video editing using her parent's very complete library of Max material. I have elected to leave this entry in place as a marker that the clip, which is now found a number of places in the bitstream, is not an official appearance. It is, however, charming; mute the mismatched sound clip, and wave at grumpy old Max.
(Sigh... and I had such high hopes for this...) Thirty years later, Max finally makes his big-screen debut... sort of. The film "Pixels" is about Earth being invaded by a collection of aliens who look strangely like video game characters, and in the midst of them is an alien Max Headroom.
Max plays intergalactic door-doorman.
What's interesting is that while Frewer voiced and acted the character, it is the first time Max is genuinely a computer-generated figure. This breakthrough - as much artistic and esthetic as technical - could open the door to a return of Max with a considerably older Frewer still doing the characterization.
On the other hand, this rather puffy-faced and poorly "Maxified" appearance does not bode well for further appearances using this technique. Many parodies of Max look and sound more like the real thing... I guess hoping for better, given that the movie is widely considered a big-budget stinker, was too much.
At least I finally got to change the header for this section, though!
Playboy: 20 Questions for Max Headroom (January 1987)
Playboy magazine gave Max space for a short-form "20 Questions" interview in their January 1987 issue. (The content was probably written by Steve Roberts, possibly with input from Paul Owen, David Hansen and maybe even Matt Frewer.)
Immediately following the interview was the "Maxine Legroom" parody centerfold.
Newsweek: M-M-Mad About Max (cover article, April 20, 1987)
This piece is considerably more than an interview, so it's cataloged elsewhere:
Playboy: Max to the Max (January 1988)
This item comes closer to being a writeup about Max than an interview or appearance. Matt Frewer posed for a four-page fashion layout, wearing the usual array of extremely expensive designer clothes (leather jackets and slacks, mostly), with a cameo shot of Max in the opening splash and, of course, a very Max-y writeup com-com-complete with stutters.
It is one of the very last Max articles to appear and was likely scheduled and locked in before the cancellation of the ABC series and the lack of another Cinemax show.
Omni: Utopia round table (April 1988)
The science/fiction magazine Omni ran a roundtable question piece in their April 1988 issue, asking figures great (Jonas Salk, Coretta Scott King), trivial (Oprah Winfrey, Roy Rogers) and silly (Tammy Faye Bakker... and Max) for their description of Utopia.
Max's answer, probably written by Steve Roberts, David Hansen or Paul Owen, is reproduced at right.