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News presenter: They’re the stars and heartthrobs you probably haven’t heard of, whose video diaries have turned them into internet sensations watched by millions of viewers and making plenty of money from advertising. And for huge numbers of teenagers this is a breed of celebrity created on the video-sharing website YouTube that’s fast replacing the stars of the mainstream media. Katie Razzall reports.
Dan Howell: So this is when the magic happens ...
Reporter: It’s not every day you’re invited into a young man’s bedroom, but this one doubles as a studio where 21-year-old Dan Howell makes the video diaries he uploads to the internet.
Dan Howell: So you watch something that made you feel some feelings. If you then go onto the internet and see 10,000 other people feeling the same feelings, it’s a 'feelingsplosion' ...
Reporter: You might not recognise him but he’s a YouTube sensation, obsessed over by hundreds of thousands of teenagers across the world.
Sampled voice: Truth or dare ... four.
Dan Howell: OK, here we go. Let’s see what horrific things the internet will make me do this time.
Reporter: Nearly half a million fans subscribe free to his YouTube channel, 'Danisnotonfire', where he uploads videos about what’s on his mind.
Dan Howell: OK, and we’ll cut it there ...
Reporter: Dan lives with Phil Lester, another video blogger or vlogger, and we met them as Dan finalised his latest work. Making these videos is their full-time job.
And in terms of how much you get paid, I mean, how much do you get paid?
Phil Lester: Enough to pay the rent.
Dan Howell: Like, my channel is probably getting more views than, like, the whole of E4 for example, and that’s, like, a multi-multimillion pound thing. Should I be getting that much money? It’s ... obviously that’s the worth of internet adverts, worth of TV adverts, so it’s really interesting to think, how much money will a 15-year-old have on YouTube in ten years’ time?
Reporter: There are no rules to being a YouTube star but filming yourself doing anything from unicycling to the supermarket to doing a naked bungee jump, dancing in the middle of London or eating bugs, is a sure way to get millions of hits, and that’s how you make money. The more views you get, the more you make from advertising.
These twins funded their gap year by vlogging. Sam Pepper is another with a hit rate of which he’s proud.
Sam Pepper: I’ve got an interesting fact actually. Twenty-five years’ worth of, like, minutes, have been watched of my videos. There we go!
Reporter: When these YouTube stars make public appearances as they did officially last Sunday, youngsters queue for hours to meet them. One even brought a cake for a vlogger called Jack, and 13-year-old Alice probably wasn’t the only one who shed tears after meeting her favourite YouTuber.
Alice: He’s my first famous YouTuber I’ve met. He knows who I am, and it’s sort of like, how can someone so amazing know me?
Reporter: Chief amongst those considered amazing is 22-year-old Charlie McDonnell.
Charlie McDonnell: In fact I actually like them so much that I’ve put them at number ten on my top ten list of things that make me happy.
Reporter: Charlie is a celebrity in this world as Britain’s biggest YouTube vlogger. His channel has 1.5 million subscribers.
Charlie McDonnell: I definitely feel like I’m a part of something important, but it is a case for me of, I’ve been doing this for so long now that I’m just sort of used to it. It’s just normal for me to just to be on YouTube and all of my friends do the same thing.
I am evil Charlie!
Reporter: Charlie’s videos have been viewed more than 250 million times and it’s not just teenagers who’ve spotted his appeal. Stephen Fry, who’s known for being ahead of the curve in the tech world, recorded something for the young vlogger.
Stephen Fry: You have just had the almost imponderable joy of watching Charlieissocoollike, which makes you, like, cool.
Reporter: Stephen Fry though probably doesn’t spend as long watching the videos as these fans do.
Girl 1: From the moment I get back from college, so around four till about 2 a.m., 'cause I’m insane like that.
Girl 2: I spend around six and a half hours on YouTube, literally around that much.
Girl 3: Probably more than five, to be honest.
Alexis Sitaropolous: From a youth perspective these guys are pop stars and singers, right? It may seem niche to you or I, erm, but these guys have massively passionate followings, the YouTubers that we’re using, erm, and part of that is that people get to live their life from day to day, and so they feel like they know them, erm, intrinsically, and they’re part of their lives.
Reporter: Our YouTubers think there’s one subtle difference between them and established stars.
Dan Howell: Like, people, they don’t put YouTubers on pedestals like they do with traditional celebrities, it’s all about ... it’s almost like you have a friend, on the screen, so when I’m making a video, it’s like I’m talking to the person watching.
Reporter: Back in Dan’s bedroom he gives me the chance to appear on his YouTube channel.
Dan Howell: Now, just try to sing the longest note you can, but not like a proper singing note, just kind of like a hmmmmmmm.
Reporter: It involves singing a note for a long time to take part in an internet competition.
Dan Howell: Whenever you’re ready.
Reporter: Right, now?
Dan Howell: Yes.
Reporter: I don’t really understand why I’m doing this, but then this phenomenon isn’t aimed at me and my generation, and perhaps that’s the point.
Dan Howell: You’ve done a YouTube, congratulations!
Reporter: Yay, I’m on YouTube!