In 1987, Max Headroom interrupted a Doctor Who broadcast for a spanking

On November 22, 1987, Chicago-area Doctor Who fans experienced a crossover with Max Headroom that would go down in the history books. The only problem? Neither show had signed up for this clash of universes, and Max ended up getting his naked ass smacked on a PBS station.

That Sunday evening, two stations found themselves at the mercy of spank-happy hackers with a Max Headroom mask. The hackers first targeted WGN-Channel 9, where they interrupted The Nine O'Clock News for 30 seconds with a buzzing broadcast of Max swaying against his usual silvery background.


The next hack occurred at 11:15 PM on WTTW-Channel 11. At the time, the PBS affiliate was airing the Doctor Who serial Horror of Fang Rock. Viewers who had tuned in for the exploits of the Fourth Doctor instead were treated to the bare bottom of an AI New Coke spokesman. Here's the play-by-play of what happened during this fairly incomprehensible hack (above):

The person in the Max Headroom mask appeared, as before, this time saying, "That does it. He's a freakin' nerd," before laughing and jeering, "Yeah, I think I'm better than Chuck Swirsky. Freakin' liberal."

The unidentified man continued to utter random phrases, including New Coke's advertising slogan "Catch the Wave" while holding a Pepsi can (Max Headroom was a Coca-Cola spokesperson at the time), then tossing the can down, and making an obscene gesture with a rubber extension over his middle finger (the gesture was cut off at the bottom of the screen due to the close-up of the camera) then retrieving the Pepsi can, and saying "Your love is fading," before removing the rubber extension, then began humming the theme song to Clutch Cargo, and stating that he had "made a giant masterpiece for all the greatest world newspaper nerds" (the call letters WGN are an abbreviation for "World's Greatest Newspaper," in reference to the Tribune Company's Chicago Tribune). He then held up a glove, said "my brother is wearing the other one," and put the glove on. He then took the glove off, adding that it was "dirty."

The picture suddenly cut over to a shot of the man's lower torso. His buttocks were exposed, and he was holding the now-removed mask up to the camera while being spanked with a flyswatter by an unidentified accomplice wearing a dress, as the man exclaimed "They're coming to get me!". The transmission then blacked out and cut off, and the hijack was over after about 90 seconds.

The FBI never discovered the hijackers' identities, but this anonymous Redditor claims to know the parties behind the hack. The moral of the story? Tom Baker and light sadomasochism sort of mix.

[Flick Filosopher via Reddit]



My completely unsupported theory is the Wachowskis could've done this. They're from the Chicago area. Both were college age at the time and one (don't remember which) had worked in broadcasting already. It was a real cyberpunk thing to do, "hacking a signal" like that, and The Matrix refers to hacking the signal constantly. One of the brothers has been into S&M and is a transsexual and there's the whole spanking thing in the video above...

I have no real evidence of course, but I like the theory. One thing that certainly undercuts it—if the Wachowskis were involved, neither of them was the guy on-screen. I've seen an interview with both and they have distinctive, monotone, bass speaking voices, nothing like "Max" here.