Armed with just a £50 webcam, a 20-year-old from Bath has courted a global audience from his bedroom with his videos reaching 170m views.
Charlie McDonnell, Britain’s latest international star now appearing in his own bedroom. At just 20 he’s become the first Briton to reach the magical figure of 1m regular viewers on YouTube. They have all subscribed to his video channel, charlieissocoollike.
His most successful video, Duet with Myself, in which he manages by camera trickery to appear twice on screen as a “duo” has had 5.87m views.
It’s more than the 5.1m people who watched Childs, 21, the star of The Only Way Is Essex, and her housemates at the launch of the latest Celebrity Big Brother series, which coincidentally he turned down.
You may not have heard of him but his cyberspace celebrity and wholesome videos, which have now been viewed more than 170m times, have brought him the marks of success usually afforded to X Factor stars such as Cheryl Cole. So successful, in fact, that he has decided not to go to university but to move to London to concentrate on his burgeoning career as a media star.
Along with his viewing numbers success he is also drawing in big advertisers.
L’Oréal, the hair styling company that uses Cole in its commercials, has placed an advert on one of his online dissertations about his love of long hair.
He has made three albums, two with his Doctor Who tribute band Chameleon Circuit, all of which went into the iTunes download chart.
McDonnell’s latest accolade of a million subscribers proves he is no overnight sensation. He started four years ago after initially opening a YouTube account to make a short film with a friend.
He was 16 and taking a break from GCSE revision. The movie never got made but, with a £50 webcam and a laptop bought for him by his father, he began making videos to post online. The first was about getting yourself noticed on YouTube.
Among his latest releases is a four-minute video called Fun Science, in which he plays his ukulele while singing in rhyme about how sound works. It has had 1.7m hits.
On the earlier Duet with Myself he mocks his acne and facial mole and sings to himself: “You’ve got no friends. They are just on the internet. You’re a waste of space, you’ve got no life.”
However, not many of his contemporaries make films that are adorned with adverts for Samsung’s Galaxy tablet or have voiceovers from Stephen Fry. He earns royalties from the commercials, but his biggest extravagance so far is to buy a saxophone.
He is a big hit in the United States, thanks to videos such as How to Speak English, in which he discusses the meaning of words including “chav” with an American friend, and one of his first, How To Be English, in which he gives step-by-step instructions on how to make a cup of tea.
More people might want to study the Youtube handbook and start rolling.