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In April 2007, a 16-year-old boy named Charlie McDonnell was studying for his exams. But he was bored, so he turned on his laptop computer. He found a website called YouTube and watched a video of another teenager like him. The teenager was sitting in his bedroom and talking about how bored he was. “I can do better than that!” thought Charlie. So he used his laptop and webcam to make his first video, and posted it on YouTube under the name Charlieissocoollike.
YouTube started in 2005 and is now the world’s largest video website. More than 3 billion videos are watched every day on YouTube and a large number of those are video blogs. These are simply videos of people talking to a camera about their lives or things that interest them.
Two days after Charlie posted his first video, he had 150 subscribers, so he decided to make more videos. He soon became quite popular. A few months later, Oprah Winfrey, the famous American TV host, showed one of his videos called How to be English on her programme. In this video, Charlie wears a suit and tie and talks in a funny accent. He shows viewers how to make a cup of tea. Charlie suddenly became very famous in the United States too.
To say thank you to all his fans he made a video called Challenge Charlie, asking people to suggest funny or difficult things for him to do in his videos. Challenges included drinking tomato ketchup, wearing all of his clothes at once and painting himself purple!
Charlie is also a singer and songwriter. His most popular videos are of him singing and playing the ukelele. In Duet with Myself, he uses special effects to sing a duet with himself about what a boring person he is. This has now been watched over 7 million times!
Charlie’s best friend, Alex Day, is also a musician and video blogger. They met through YouTube and started a band together. The band is called Chameleon Circuit, and they have made two CDs and performed several concerts.
With more than one and a half million subscribers, Charlie is the most popular video blogger in the UK. He has now made enough money to buy a house with his friend Alex. But what is the secret of his success? “I make the kind of videos that I want to watch,” he says. And when asked how fame has affected him, Charlie says, "I still sit in my bedroom talking to my camera, and that's what I want to do."
Oh, and how did Charlie do in his exams back in 2007? Well, he passed with nine A grades and one B! He says that he wants to go to university in the future but decided to try and make a career on YouTube before that. So, far, it’s going very well!
Worksheets and downloads
What's your favourite Charlie McDonnell video? Why do you like it?