Max Headroom

World and Characters

For worldbuilding and character reference, these are short biographies and image galleries of Max's world, as well as some of my own character designs for a fancomic I've got in the works.

The City

The first thing that struck me about this show was that the broader landscape served as more than just a backdrop to the action; it is almost a character in itself. Note the pervasive smog, how everything looks clean and hi-tech from a distance but is actually dusty and smokey and industrial up close. Ooooh, evocative.

Well la-deeeeeee-dah, aren't we the little art critic?

Aesthetics, Max. Setting aesthetics are important.

Athsmatics? You know, l-l-l-laughter is the best medicine... Unless you're asthmatic. Then you're better off with ventolin. Olin.

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Graphics And Tech

User interfaces of the fuuuuture!

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Institutions: Academy

The academy is a prestigeous school for genius children, paving the way for the city's technological development. The lessons are complex, the assignments and terminology incomprehensible to the layperson, and the clinical way lessons are taught likely a far cry from any school you or I attended.

Building

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Hacking Den

While the tape decks and dials mightn't stand as a more contemporary setting, the server racks and cables could work well.

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Office

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Pod Room
Nicholas et al

Nicholas is a student at an academy for computing geniuses. This little bright spark took his hacking fun a bit too far when he committed the crime of channel-jamming, and framed Blank Reg for it. Nicholas worked alongside several other technological genius kids, but seemed to take most of the blame for the channel-jamming when its true source was discovered. His punishment was unclear (do Metrocops arrest minors?), and the similarities between his present and Bryce's past could well be explored.

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Headmaster

A kindly headmaster figure, this guy is charmingly out-of-place in his comfortable mahogany office space despite being surrounded by modern technology.

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Institutions: Body Bank

Ever needed a toe, spleen, or 2x2cm patch of skin, but didn't know where you could get one? The Body Bank is your answer! Corpses of all shapes and sizes are amassed here for your shopping convenience.

Building

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Snatcher's Van

The single headlamp is a neat little visual motif that identifies bodysnatchers amongst the gloom of the city.

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Florence

As in “nightingale”, Florence runs a bodybank with a twist; not all of the corpses arrived dead. Hopefully, since Carter uncovered her helping role in the kidnap of Blanks with a specific serotype, she has learned her lesson and stuck to legitimate business.

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Dr. Mason

A rather nervous man affiliated with Florence's bodybank, Mason was instrumental in identifying the right serotype among blanks kidnapped for involuntary donation to save a rich man's mother's life.

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Surgeon

This man is willing to perform surgery regardless of the consent of the patients... For a price.

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Mahler

Breughel's offsider, in charge of the heavy lifting. It was implied that he met a sticky end at Breghel's hands, as he is replaced.

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Breughel

A rather manic sociopath, Breughel makes a living by collecting and selling corpses to the body banks. It is implied that, through his criminal connections, he is happy to assassinate people and cover his tracks by selling their corpses under a fake name. His loyalty is easily bought by the highest bidder, so the best way to get information from him is via a business deal rather than appeals to his (nonexistant)better nature.

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Institutions: Grobags

Why go through all of the inconvenience and uncertainty of pregnancy when you can have the very best selection of your genetic material lovingly crafted into a baby? Why bother with the hassle of the baby bump when your little angel can be brought to term in comfortable hanging baskets, ready for collection? Baby Grobags cater to the busy businesswomen who want a career and a child.

Building

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Cornelia Firth, Cornelia's Assistant

Head of the Grobags business, Cornelia drips with charm as she tries to convince her wealthy clients to spend a little more on their babies to be, but leaves all the problems to her assistant. Her assistant is a well meaning, if put-upon woman who has to tackle crises way above her paygrade.

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Institutions: Metrocops

Like policemen, only with more padded gear!

The officer attire (extreme left) is a pastiche of the varying designs of officers in the show; a I'd not spotted any civilians with a long coat, I thought it'd add a more quickly recognisable shape to these authority figures. I've also taken the metrocop design one step further with a suggested riot version (extreme right below) of their standard gear. The lack of a sheild is intentional; they'd be clumsy in the close quarters of the cramped dwellings of the city, and there's plenty of comic releif to be had if a riot cop shields him/herself with a discarded dustpan lid or fridge door.

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Court

All court proceedings are carried out via television, with evidence being submitted via video tape.

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Van

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Sgt Compton

Compton met a happy end, hypnotised into a clueless rapture by a broadcast and eventually falling down a stairwell to his death due to lack of attention to his surroundings. Perhaps he has a family seeking an explanation or revenge for his death?

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Assorted Chiefs

Tough as nails, with varying degrees of empathy and willingness to listen to Carter and his ilk.

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Troopers

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Networks: Ad Market

A direct paralell to a stock market, advertising time on different networks is frantically bought and sold on the floor.

Building

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Frank Braddock

A television version of a used car salesman, Braddock is a “packager”, selling combinations of programs to networks. He brokered a less than legitimate deal where terrorist group the “White Brigade” sold exclusive rights of their explosive activities to Breakthru TV, and paid for it with his life when the crazy leader of the terrorists, Croyd Hauser, blew up a truck with the Brigade and Braddock still inside.

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Kurslar

A sleazy freelance journalist tied loosely to Network 66, Kurslar leaked tapes of a prominent politician, Harriet Garth, allegedly having an elicit affair. It was eventually revealed that it was a set-up.

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Market Announcer

Forget the weatherman, news from this guy is important!

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Networks: Censors

In a world where television is everything, and Networks come and go, power over television at a global level is a frightening thing...

Dragul

A sterling example of a weedy beurocrat overstepping their remit, Dragul took to arresting Blanks for crimes that technically weren't crimes (such as using a printing press to create material to help educate children). While Carter led the way in standing up to him, Dragul's fate isn't fully explored. Perhaps he could claw his way back to power, and institute something like an mandatory registration requirement for AI (and demand Max's deletion?

Networks:Dream-Vu

Dream-vu was a subscription-only TV channel broadcasting recordings of people's dreams. The down on their luck would be paid a small wage for sleeping in a large disused cinema, and having their dreams recorded. The problem was the process wasn't entirely safe; there was a small risk the dreamer would end up a dead husk, completely sucked dry. The whole scheme was shut down by Carter, who investigated the death of an old friend, Paddy, who was selling his dreams. While the channel has been thwarted, the fate of the dangerous technology itself wasn't specified; what could happen if someone (say, Grossberg? Traker?) got their hands on it?

Building

Check out their stylish lamps.

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Cinema

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Bella

One of two Dream-vu executives, happy to push business deals predicated on a technology she knew is killing innocent people.

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Greig

The second off two Dream-vu executives, also happy to push business deals predicated on a technology he knew is killing innocent people.

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Dream Techies

A fun, if inept double-act; near enough is good enough in their estimation!

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Networks: Network 23

Network 23 is one of hundreds of television networks jostling for audiences. While morally a cut above the others, in no small part due to an executive committee sympathetic to Edison Carter's crusade for the truth, it has been involved in a number of dubious dealings, including broadcasting adverts that are known to have a risk of exploding viewer's heads. Without the support of ZikZak, the Network's primary sponsor, the Network would collapse. Max's unintentional creation proved a boon for the Network, though his ratings-grabbing potential is a bit risky as he is impossible to censor.

Buildings and Vehicles

Those red Network 23 helicopters are COOL.

Angela Barry

Barry is a backup helicopter pilot, though her real passion seems to be reporting. Somewhat impulsive, she takes any opportunity to get behind a camera, even though this can land her in trouble (like when she took Carter's camera and botched a vital interview). Her desire to be taken seriously as a reporter could lead to a number of tricky situations where she gets in over her head and needs rescue.

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Gorrister

A laissez-faire controller, Gorrister clocked off even though Carter was still in the field, resulting in disaster for Carter.... Who proceeded to storm into their shared office and punch Gorrister in the face. Theora then takes up the position as Carter's controller. It is unclear whether Gorrister was fired, or just moved to another post; either way, he doubtless harbours quite some animosity for Carter.

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Martinez

Martinez is a helicopter pilot for Network 23, ferrying reporters to locations of interest. The best in the business, he's capable of fitting through some hair-raising small gaps, and even faking engine damage if Carter needs it. He's also one of Carter's personal friends. I hate to say it... But if you want to craft a story where someone Carter cares about is kidnapped without sacrificing one of the main characters, Martinez is your man!

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Controllers

Controllers form the information channels of Network 23. Each is assigned a reporter, serving to source and collate background information, guide them while in the field via an audio link, and manage the technical aspects of recording and broadcast.

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Networks: Network 23 - Execs

Network 23's board of executives have only one agenda; keeping Network 23 on top of the ratings. Though they don't always stay within the bounds legal means to keep the figures up, they are certainly the most upstanding of all the TV Networks.

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Ben Cheviot

Cheviot ascended to director of Network 23 following a scandal wherein his morally bankrupt predecessor was disgraced. He has a fatherly air, and is often torn between his obligation to keep the network's ratings high, and do the right thing. He was instrumental in the continued existence of Max, seeing both his ratings potential and his potential to grow as a person. At some point, he had an affair with Formby, which he ended. It is rather unusual for such a nice guy to rise so high up the Network hierarchy; it leaves you wondering what skeletons there may be in his closet...

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Julia Formby

Cheviot's right-hand-woman, Formby took care of the dirtier side of Network 23's business. She had links to the rich and powerful Plantagenet, and was willing to sacrifice Max to him in order to curry favour. She was also caught in a bomb blast in the AdMarket, though was back at work soon after (albeit with a number of bandages covering her wounds). Her replacement by Laurin isn't full explained, but Laurin's catty attitude about Formby and Cheviot's affair, and Formby's less than straight-line business tactics, suggest she stepped down to avoid tarnishing the Networks' reputation.

Formby's ruthless proclivities seem to be tempered by her genuine affection for Cheviot, whom she still cares for despite the end of their affair. Though officially out of the Network 23 picture, she would probably be very willing to help out with pretty much anything if asked by Cheviot.

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Lauren

Formby's replacement, Laurin is a strong woman who appears to be quite strictly law-abiding. A little cynical at times, she plays an excellent foil to Cheviot's more genial nature.

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Edwards

Ratings obsessed slimeball! This guy would brown-nose any despot if it meant praise or promotion. Edward's desire to out-do other board members might be capitalised on by scammers promising the world, allowing him to claim ownership of an apparently great but actually terrible idea, then abandoning him at the eleventh hour.

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Gene Ashwell

A panic merchant, Ashwell is easy to fluster. Definitely one a weak link in Network 23's pretty resolute board, he might be more liable than the others to blackmail or coercion.

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Networks: Network 66

One of Network 23's biggest rivals, Network 66 will do anything for ratings.

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Building

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Boardroom

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Grossberg

Grossberg is a nefarious businessman out for himself. Following his expulsion from Network 23 following his championing the use of advertisements that literally blow the viewer's heads up, he weaselled his way into becoming chairman of Network 66 and began a ratings war. Grossberg is the closes thing the series has to a recurring villain, with a penchant for trickery and a hatred of Network 23 (particularly Max and Carter). He has led Bryce astray on several occasions, luring his (albeit morally bankrupt) genius into creating some pretty deadly technologies. There's little to stop him from attempting to use Bryce again.

Bartlett

Bartlett not only helped Grossberg ascend to chairmanship of Network 66, but happily did his bidding in some less than kosher deals. He could be considered Grossberg's lackey, though his loyalty may simply be a front while he bides his time.

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Board Guy
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Board Lady

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Ex Chair

Elbowed out of his position of chairman of Network 66 by Grossberg. Perhaps he is out for revenge against Grossberg, and the Network 66 board who all voted to see him go...?

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Institutions: Security Systems

Security Systems is the monolithic security orgsinisation, employable if you feel Metrocops just won't do. They offer a lot of cutting-edge technology to help the rich feel safe, but the average person shouldn't feel safe at all – the company holds so much power that it would be a disaster should it fall into the wrong hands.

Logo
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Security Guard

Note the spiffy collar and peaked front button-up panel.

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Coldroom

Every office block should have one.

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A-7

A super high-tech AI built to manage all of Security System's systems, A-7 falls for Max's charms and, for the first time, disobeys a direct order. We last see her stretching her personality subroutines, given more freedom to develop. There is a lot of scope for her reappearance, perhaps as an equal but opposing force to Max in the digital realm.

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Valarie Towne

The head of Security Systems, this woman's political plots are enough to make your eyes cross. She ended up deposed by A-7.

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Techies

Technical employees of Security Systems who trust their readouts over their own eyes, and common sense.

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Institutions: Vu-Age

This church promises resurrection via AI consciousness downloads. They don't actually deliver, instead using crude simulations with a few gestures and phrases of the deceased to fool visiting loved ones.

Vanna White and her Clergyman

One of Carter's old flames, Vanna is the charismatic head of the Vu-Age church. Vanna romantically manipulated Carter in an attempt to silence his discovery that the church was built on empty promises, and kidnapped Max into the bargain, but insisted she had only pure intentions. More of a secretary than anything else, the clergyman managed the Vu-Age punters... I mean, congregation.

Institutions: ZikZak

ZikZak is the major manufacturer of... everything. A megacorporation of scary proportions, they cover everything from fast food to high fashion. Their immense wealth makes them one of the major sponsors of Network 23, which lets them call the shots on the programming. Control the material goods of the people, and the programming of one of the major networks in a world where TV is innocuous and mandatory, and you effectively control everything.

Boardroom

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Logo

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Chairman

Cool as a cucumber, the world pretty much revolves around this man's whims.

Marketer

Pitching schemes directly to a corporation as powerful as ZikZak requires nerves of steel.

Lackey

Blanks

Unregistered citizens, called Blanks, have made the lifestyle choice to live outside of normal society. Viewed as a threat by some in authority, they are by and large a peaceful lot who enjoy the freedom their status affords them.

Blanks: Big Time TV

A charming little down-to-earth network broadcast from the roof of Reg and Dominique's van, Big Time TV is run by Blanks Reg and Dominique (and their very big dog). They are invaluable friends and allies to Carter and his immediate colleagues at Network 23.

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Dominique

A glamorous woman seemingly out of place in the litter strewn streets surrounding the Big Time TV van, Dominique always gets into the spirit of things. Though there is some mild flirting between her and Reg, she is more of a big sister to him than anything else.

Reg

A punk rocker with a heart of gold, Reg is the most loyal of friends and staunchest of foes to the undesirables of this world. For all of his rough demeanour, he is quite cultured (as evinced by his respect for books).

Bruno

Bruno's intensity and technological genius is tempered by a surprisingly sound moral underpinning. Unhappy with his role in some rather seedy business, he pulls the plug on the plan and agrees to work with Carter for the betterment of all; this paves the way for future alliances, and opens up the possibility of two geniuses bickering (Bryce and Bruno fireworks!). Also, he has a pet toad. Cool!

Frances and Mink

A Blank Mum in a hostile world, Francis is a free spirit who drums for her fellow slummers and keeps a cheerful vibe going... Her impish daughter, Mink, was caught up in a politically motivated battle between Blanks seeking to better their kids with counterfeit education programs (because they can't afford to buy them legitimately). Think free-spirited gypsies amidst a littered landscape and bikies.

Motorcycle Bloke

Though he doesn't get credited with a name, this man is instrumental in ensuring the safety of Mink. Distrustful of authority, he comes to begrudgingly accept Carter's good intentions. He could end up being a possible transport fallback through areas of the city Rik doesn't know, or if Rik is otherwise occupied.

Teacher

With enough Scottishness in his clothes to make up for a complete lack of a Scottish accent, this Blank organised showing Blank children illegal education programs because they couldn't afford to buy them. He's done jail time for this offence; if released, he may prove another ally if Carter needs access to the poorer areas of the city.

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Traker

Originally a colleagues of Bruno, Traker was all for triggering an explosion that would destroy the beloved Big Time TV van, a threat intended only as a bluff. Bruno ignored him and saved the day, but who knows what the disgruntled resourceful Traker has gotten up to since then...

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Middle Class

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Billy

A man likely in his 80s working a fast-food counter job usually taken by teenagers... Oh, the possibilities! How did he get to be working at a ZikZak food outlet? Is he happy with his lot, or is this the end of a fall from grace? Billy, we salute you.

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Mrs. Fratelli

Prey to the distractions of the Neurostim bracelet, Mrs. Fratelli is a sterling example of a typical middle-class housewife from 20 minutes into the future; she has an air of jolly Mum about her.

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Prendergast

A pretty standard gruff sports trainer personality, Prendergast manages the young “talent” for Raking; there's not much to say about this guy, aside from marvelling at his excellent name.

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The Poor

Rik

Doubtless a pun on “Rickshaw”, Rik is Carter's contact with the Blanks and poor, and transport to get into the shadier areas of the city. His surly street-smart attitude is only slightly undermined by his rickety assortment of vehicles, including a horse-and-cart-like setup with an old motorbike substituted for a horse. His past, occupations, and motivations are pretty vague, leaving a huge range of possible developments for his character.

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Grace McGill

Amazing "Gracie" is Rik's surly bodyguard. She's quick with a switchblade, and probably has more weapons folded into her loose top and large hair. Dialogue hinted that she has a tumultuous romantic life.

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Croyd Hauser

This guy is bonkers. His affiliation with a Blank and downtrodden rights movement, the "White Brigade", turned into blowing uninhabited chunks of property up for publicity. Teaming up with Lucien and Hewett, he had struck a deal with BreakThru TV, given them exclusive rights to his “terrorist” attacks. When Network 23 reporter Janie Crane stumbled onto his plot, Croyd decided she had to die in their next explosion. Though Janie was saved by her colleagues, Croyd et al apparently perished when he got rather overexcited and detonated a charge at an unsafe distance. We might assume from the explosion that he is dead, but we never did see bodies...

Lucien

The explosive expert in Croyd's scheme, very much the timid mad scientist type. Also ended up caught in Croyd's crazy-induced explosion.

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Hewett

Croyd's muscleman, Hewett enjoyed bossing Lucien around. Ended up caught in Croyd's crazy-induced explosion.

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Paddy

Paddy started out in the business at the same time as Carter, the two were close if competitive friends rather similar in personality. They drifted apart when Carter got the job at Network 23 that they had both been trying for. Years later, Paddy is nearly destitute and is making ends meat by selling his dreams. He bumps into Carter, but just when it looks like their friendship might be able to pick up where it left off, the dream extraction process goes wrong and Paddy is dumped on the street, sucked dry.

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Misc

Upper Class

 

 

Defense Attourney

This attorney represented Blank Reg when he was unfairly charged with channel-jamming. She seemed sympathetic, but easily flustered.

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Harriet Garth

A politician allied with Network 66, Garth's apparently mild exterior conceals a devious political mind. She ran for office against the Network 23 favourite Simon Peller. She became tied up in one of Grossberg's plots and nearly lost everything because of it; there's plenty of scope for a vengeful return!

Note – as that distinctive leopard skin print coat thing was used for multiple characters in the series, plain black in my suggested character design is used to avoid confusion.

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Helen

Theora's friend, Helen is a busy high-fligher who had a bit of a run-in with Grobags when her artificially developed designer baby was kidnapped because it was a genius. We can assume she and her husband subsequently went on to balance their professional lives with raising a genius kid – there's plenty of room her for explorations of kids feeling overlooked, or bring brought up more by their televisions than their parents.

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Mr.Rivas

Carter's neighbour.

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Plantagenet

Plantagenet is a rich and powerful figure who was desperate to prolongue his mother's life beyond what would be considered a fair innings – his attempts to help her included kidnap and blackmail. His misdeeds were made public and his plans foiled... The question is, would the metrocops sent to arrest him be amenable to bribery, and how would his mother's death affect him?

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Simon Peller

Peller is a bit of a toad; snide, selfish, and snobby... But as he is allied with Network 23, and can be manipulated, he's the lesser of several evils in the political candidacy race. Also, perhaps unintentionally, he is a man of small drinking vessels (look at that tiny cup!).

Misc