20 August 1927|
Norwich, Norfolk, England
|Died||23 March 2014
Bakewell, Derbyshire, England
|Known for||Vlogging, autobiography|
|Web hosting service(s)||YouTube|
|Signature phrase||"Hello, YouTubers" or "Good evening, YouTubers"|
Making his YouTube debut in August 2006 with Telling it all, a series of five- to ten-minute autobiographical videos, Oakley gained immediate popularity with a wide section of the YouTube community. Amongst the autobiographical details revealed in his videos are that he served as a radar mechanic during World War II, that he had a lifelong love of motorcycles, and that he lived alone as a widower and pensioner.
His unforeseen rise has been widely reported by international media outlets and online news sources and blogs. After resisting all media attention for a long time (including requests for interviews, photographs, and attempts to identify him), insisting that he only wished to converse with the YouTube community in an informal and personal way, Oakley finally gave his first interview, for the BBC's The Money Programme, which was aired on BBC Two on 16 February 2007.
By mid-2006, Oakley was the most subscribed user on YouTube. His rise to the #1 position took place in just over a week. In the process, he displaced users who had been around since the site's launch over a year before, including NBC-signed Brooke Brodack. In November that year he had 30,000 subscribers. By June 2012, Oakley had recorded over 350 videos.
Oakley was later diagnosed with cancer which was too far advanced for treatment. He posted his final video on 12 February 2014, and died on the morning of 23 March 2014.
Telling It All
After Oakley's introductory video, "first try" on YouTube, which has been viewed over 2 million times, he began producing his very successful autobiographical series, Telling It All. These pushed him into Internet celebrity almost overnight, gaining mention in various media, such as BBC News and GMTV, as well as prompting the creation of websites bearing his user name. In "Telling it all 7" on YouTube, Oakley repudiated those sites, saying he was in no way affiliated with them and had no say or control over their content.
In the series, Oakley describes some of the major events and periods of his life, including
- Growing up during World War II, and living as a young teen in Norwich that was bombed by the Luftwaffe.
- His experience in the primary and secondary education system of England in the 1930s, and his fortunate (in his eyes) selection to have his education 'extended' past the age of 14, a privilege during the period reserved for children deemed to be intelligent.
- His conscription into the British Army, and again his fortunate selection to be a radar technician, which occurred as a consequence of the aptitudes his superiors detected in him. This role kept him out of combat, for which he is grateful because he did not have to witness "the horrors of war", but was nonetheless imperative for the war effort.
- His return to civilian life and the job he had left behind.
- A period of tertiary education in Leicester, England, where he met his future wife, and developed his passion for motorcycling.
- His employment in Leicester as a public-health inspector.
In early 2010, entertainer Al Chantrey - a friend of Oakley's and a fellow YouTube user - wrote and recorded a song for him which Oakley featured in several videos. The song, entitled 'Telling It All' (based on Oakley's video series) talks about Oakley's life. On 5 March 2014 Chantrey posted the song on his own channel on YouTube, accompanied by video footage of Peter as a tribute following the announcement of his illness.
The videos all begin with what has become his catchphrase, "Hello, YouTubers", or "Good evening, YouTubers", and end with his thanking viewers for watching, and saying "Good-bye" in his soft voice.
Oakley was featured in a recent installment Yahoo! Current Buzz (which chronicles the top searches on the Internet), entitled "Retired and Wired".
Oakley's YouTube success inspired other older people, particularly men with vast life experiences to share, to begin posting vlogs on it. Jonathan King credits him for starting his You Tube videos in 2006. A notable user influenced by Oakley was a World War II veteran, Martin H Slobodkin (1920–2006), who under the name MHarris1920 started to post his own blogs. Martin died in October 2006, and received an outpouring of tributes from other YouTube users after his wife, Teresa posted a video announcing his death. His widow temporarily took over his blogs, but later closed this account. Another older person is Bernhard von Schwerin, who appears under the name bernie1927. He too was a World War II veteran, however on the German side. He was encouraged by Peter and has talked about his youth and his many travels and his emigration to the US in 1951.
Oakley's influence has not just inspired the older generation. Artist Annemarie Wright, 31, was so inspired by Oakley's story, that she dedicated a piece of artwork to him. The image is of Oakley to the lyrics of The Zimmers version of 'My generation'.
On 17 August 2006, Oakley uploaded an installment of his series, "Telling it all 7", in which he made an important statement about how much attention he had received from the media over the previous days. Unlike earlier videos in the series, "Telling it all 7" was not an anecdote of his life, but focused solely on the media response he had gained. He mentioned that this is not what he sought or wanted. This video was leaked to the media because somebody reportedly intended to publish these videos—without permission from Oakley—for personal benefit. The upload included a clarification that any web sites using his username (geriatric1927) were in no way affiliated with him. In "Telling it all 7", he stated that he had received many messages from advertising companies, telephone companies, and newspaper companies that wanted to interview him. Oakley, however, was not interested, preferring to speak only to his fellow YouTubers, whom he considered his friends.
On 16 February 2007, Oakley made his first television appearance, on a special episode of the BBC's The Money Programme called "Coming to Your Screen: DIY TV". The program was taped in the autumn of 2006. He also featured in a radio interview for the BBC World Service. In March 2007, Oakley announced that he was working on some television programmes about silver surfing.
Oakley was part of a BBC documentary in which he was recruited as one of The Zimmers, a group of pensioners whom the documentary maker Tim Samuels brought together to sing The Who's classic "My Generation" to highlight the plight of old-age pensioners in modern Britain. The single was released in May 2007 to raise money for the charity Age Concern. As part of The Zimmers, Oakley recorded a version of the Alan Parsons Project's song "Old and Wise". His work with the band took him to Washington, D.C. in September 2007, as a guest of the American Association of Retired Persons.
Notes and references
- What to watch on the web: Video Blogs, BBC News, 27 November 2006 . Retrieved 29 December 2006.
- "geriatric1927's Youtube profile". Youtube.com. 24 July 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- Pensioner tops web video clips Alex Kumi, The Guardian, 14 August 2006
- "'Internet Grandad' Peter Oakley passes away aged 86 - ITV News". Itv.com. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Telling it All Series 2 - The Early War Years on YouTube posting 29 November 2013
- "" (8 November 2009). "Friends". YouTube. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- "A tribute to Peter (Geriatric1927) - Telling It All". YouTube. 5 March 2014.
- "video.yahoo.com". video.yahoo.com. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- Telling it all 7 - Something important to say youtube posting 17 August 2006
- "". "youtube.com". youtube.com. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- "". "youtube.com". youtube.com. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- "https://www.myspace.com/thezimmersband The Zimmers". Myspace.com. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
|Most Subscribed Channel on Youtube||Succeeded by