Charlie McDonnell

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Charlie McDonnell
Charlie McDonnell by Gage Skidmore.jpg
McDonnell at VidCon in 2014
Born (1990-10-01) 1 October 1990 (age 28)
ResidenceToronto, Canada
Years active2007–present
Known forVlogging, filmmaking, music
Notable work
His YouTube channel charlieissocoollike (2007-present), Chameleon Circuit (2008-2014), Cereal Time (2015-2016)
Partner(s)Emily Diana Ruth
Internet information
Web alias(es)charlieissocoollike

Charles Joseph McDonnell (born 1 October 1990) is a British vlogger, musician, filmmaker, and author from Bath, Somerset.[1] On 15 June 2011, his YouTube channel charlieissocoollike became the first in the UK to reach one million subscribers, and in May 2013, his channel reached two million subscribers. As a musician, McDonnell was a member of Doctor Who-themed rock band Chameleon Circuit and was also a member of the short-lived project Sons of Admirals until it was disbanded in May 2011. In 2010, McDonnell released a solo album titled This Is Me. McDonnell began directing short films in May 2013, and co-hosted the weekday morning YouTube breakfast show Cereal Time with fellow YouTube vlogger Jimmy Hill from 2015 to 2016.[2] In 2016, he published his first book, Fun Science.[3]

Early and personal life[edit]

McDonnell was born and raised in Bath, Somerset to parents Lindsey and Mark. He has two younger siblings: his brother, William, and his sister, Bridie. He was educated at Beechen Cliff School,[4] a state comprehensive foundation school in Bath. He identifies as an atheist.[5] McDonnell used to live with fellow video blogger Alex Day, but later lived in his own apartment in London with his girlfriend. In June 2017, he moved to Canada (his girlfriend's homeland), where he will stay for at least two years.[6]

In July 2012, McDonnell made a video announcing his relationship with then-girlfriend, fellow YouTuber, Bryarly Bishop.[7] They broke up in June 2013.[8] Charlie's current girlfriend is Emily Diana Ruth, a fellow YouTuber and filmmaker.[9][10]

In March 2014, McDonnell announced on his blog that he has terminated his friendship and cohabitation with Alex Day, stating that "I just don’t feel able to call Alex a friend of mine anymore", following allegations that Alex sexually manipulated, emotionally abused, and cheated on past girlfriends.[11][12]


After setting up the YouTube channel, charlieissocoollike on 3 April 2007, McDonnell started posting video blogs (or vlogs) to a small audience. He first came to prominence when his video titled How To Get Featured on YouTube became popular after it was featured on YouTube's UK homepage. His audience jumped from just under 150 subscribers to over 4,000 in two days.[13]

In January 2008, in celebration of gaining 25,000 subscribers, McDonnell asked for challenge suggestions from subscribers, and he is completing them in a series of 25 videos titled Challenge Charlie. He has completed all of these challenges as of March 2013, one of which was suggested by TV presenter, Phillip Schofield, and his daughter Molly, challenging McDonnell to perform the dance that accompanies the song, Hoedown Throwdown, made popular in the film Hannah Montana: The Movie. McDonnell has since posted a wide range of videos on the site including his most viewed My American Accent.[14]

In 2008, McDonnell participated in a video-blog collaboration with four other YouTube personalities, titled FiveAwesomeGuys, a spin-off project of the FiveAwesomeGirls which featured hayleyghoover and italktosnakes and ran from 28 January to 31 December of that year. In May 2009, McDonnell created an alternate YouTube account, CharlieAtE3, which followed McDonnell when he traveled to E3 2009. In January 2010 McDonnell created another alternate YouTube channel, charlieissoboredlike, for the videos he makes when he has nothing better to do.[15]

In June 2011, McDonnell became the first YouTuber in the United Kingdom to ever reach 1 million subscribers. McDonnell's videos currently end with an outro by Stephen Fry,[16] now also inclusive with a quali-tea stamp.[17] In May 2013, McDonnell hit two million subscribers.[18]

On 8 March 2013, McDonnell announced that he would be making five short films, in preparation for the feature film that he is currently writing.[19] In a video published on 27 October 2014, he announced his last two films would actually be one film, split into two parts.[20]

Title Writer Producer Genre Release Date Ref.
The Tea Chronicles Charlie McDonnell
Khyan Mansley
Matt Diegan Psychological horror comedy 23 May 2013 [21]
Offline Alan Flanagan
Charlie McDonnell
Emily Diana Ruth Disaster comedy 14 December 2013 [23]
Strangers in a Bed Michael Aranda
Charlie McDonnell
Emily Diana Ruth Western drama 28 June 2014 [25]
Our Brother Charlie McDonnell Emily Diana Ruth Drama 29 and 30 October 2014 [26]

Musical history[edit]

Chameleon Circuit[edit]

McDonnell performing with Chameleon Circuit at VidCon 2011.

McDonnell is one of the founding members of Chameleon Circuit, a band known for creating music inspired by the British television series Doctor Who. Along with fellow vloggers Alex Day (Nerimon on YouTube), Liam Dryden (Littleradge), and former member Chris Beattie (CowInParachute), Chameleon Circuit released their self-titled debut album on 1 June 2009.[28] In July 2010, their song Count the Shadows also appeared on DFTBA Records, Volume Two, a compilation sampler that was given for free in the grab bags at VidCon 2010.[29] At the beginning of 2011, Chameleon Circuit, in their new line-up following the departure of Beattie and the addition of Ed Blann (Eddplant) and Michael Aranda, began work on their second album Still Got Legs. It was released on 12 July 2011.[30]

As of 2014, Chameleon Circuit have been on an apparent indefinite hiatus, after both McDonnell and Dryden publicly denounced members Blann and Day, who have both suspended their online careers following separate reported incidents of sexual abuse.[31][32] McDonnell, Dryden and Aranda appeared together at VidCon 2014 for photo signings.[33]

Sons of Admirals[edit]

In 2010, McDonnell, along with three other YouTubers, Alex Day ("nerimon"), Ed Blann ("eddplant") and Tom Milsom ("Hexachordal") formed a new project titled "Sons of Admirals". Their first single was released via YouTube on 14 June 2010 on McDonnell's channel. The group covered Cat Stevens' song "Here Comes My Baby" featuring all four members on vocals. The track peaked at No. 61 in the UK.[34]
In October 2010 the band released an EP including "Here Comes My Baby"; an acoustic version of the same song; a cover of "Believe in Yourself", the theme of children's television show Arthur; the music video of "Here Comes My Baby"; and a behind-the-scenes video. The band has been known to perform a cover of "You're Not There", written by Ed Blann, and a cover of Radiohead's "Creep".[35]

Sons of Admirals was not a band in the traditional sense. They were all solo artists, but as well as having their solo careers, they came together to form one group. The idea and name inspiration for this came from the Admiral's Men, which was a Shakespearean group of actors that came together to perform, while still retaining their individual careers.[36]

Sons of Admirals disbanded in May 2011, publishing a statement on their website that "the core goal of the group – to get into the charts, and to increase exposure for the group members' individual talents proved to run against too many of our beliefs and approaches to music and promotion".[37]

Solo career[edit]

A prominent feature of McDonnell's YouTube channel are the songs which he writes and performs himself, usually on a ukulele, but also featuring other instruments such as the guitar, melodica, and—in one song—a kazoo and a xylophone made of filled water glasses. The most popular of these is "Duet with Myself." On 1 December 2010, in response to many fan requests to do so, he released his debut album titled This is Me via DFTBA Records. The album features several songs from his channel that was remixed for the album, as well as several new, previously unreleased songs.[38]

On 24 January 2012 McDonnell posted a video of him singing an original song Time To Reply on his YouTube channel, which received highly positive feedback.[citation needed]

In 2014, McDonnell’s YouTube Channel, charlieissocoollike, was listed on New Media Rockstars Top 100 Channels, ranked at #63.[39]

Music videos[edit]

  • Here Comes My Baby (2010)
  • Forever Yours (2011)

Alex Day (a.k.a. nerimon), has released a number of tracks on YouTube as music videos, such as the highly popular Forever Yours, which peaked at number 4 in the UK charts. The music videos for a number of these were directed by McDonnell, some even starring him or featuring him at some point in the video.[citation needed]

Charity and media work[edit]

On 30 September 2008, to celebrate his 18th birthday, McDonnell and Alex Day dyed and then shaved their hair off whilst live on BlogTV for a period of seven and a half hours in aid of Cancer Research UK.[40] They managed to raise nearly £5000.[41] The broadcast viewership peaked at 4,500. Another friend, Jazza John (known as rhymingwithoranges on YouTube) promised to shave his head if they hit £4000 and did so about a month later with help from Kristina Horner (known as italktosnakes and Monday on the YouTube collab-channel fiveawesomegirls).[42]

In October 2009, McDonnell was named as one of a number of prominent YouTube users who would be participating in a project called RNLI Shout. The aim of the project is to raise money to purchase a lifeboat for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

On 4 September 2010, McDonnell and fellow YouTuber Myles Dyer co-presented Stickaid, a 24-hour live web show. Starting from 12:00 noon BST, the two hosted the fifth annual charity event from Middlesex University's Trent Park campus in London. Their goal was to raise £10,000 ($15,900), which they more than doubled.[43] All the proceedings went to UNICEF.

The Science of Attraction[edit]

In November 2010, McDonnell was part of a group of YouTube videos called The Science of Attraction where he hosted a few experiments and had his body digitally swapped with somebody else's. He was a co-presenter with Kat Akingbade and Derren Brown. As part of the series, eight videos were produced.[44]


In the autumn of 2009, McDonnell featured with three other YouTube users on the BBC Switch documentary series Chartjackers. The programme documented their attempt to achieve a number one single in the UK Singles Chart within 10 weeks, by crowdsourcing resources provided by the online community. McDonnell was cast in the series for his familiarity to young British YouTube viewers and to act as a Pied Piper to the teen audience.[45]

Over the course of Chartjackers, McDonnell solicited lyrics, music, performers and stylists to record the final single and video via a YouTube channel named ChartJackersProject. An unofficial charity single for Children in Need, the completed song was titled I've Got Nothing and was sung by vocalists Miranda Chartrand and Adam Nichols.[46] McDonnell edited the single's official music video,[47] which was shown nationwide on British music channels such as 4Music and Viva. I've Got Nothing was released exclusively through the iTunes Store at midnight on 9 November 2009[48] and reached No. 36 on the UK Singles Chart.[49] Sales of the single raised a total of approximately £10,000 for Children in Need.[50]


In July 2010 McDonnell was signed up alongside KateModern star Emma Pollard and X Factor contestants Nicola and Fran Gleadall to present a TV show run by Piers Morgan called FirstTV, an offshoot of First News newspaper. On First TV he did a few challenges like trying to break a Guinness world record by typing the alphabet on an iPad keyboard quickest and he got asked to tell a joke.[51][52] However, after filming four episodes of FirstTV, McDonnell decided to leave the show because he did not enjoy presenting pre-scripted work.[53]


In October 2013, it was announced that McDonnell was to play the main voice role along with BAFTA Award-winning Danny Wallace in Mike Bithell's indie video game Volume.[54] The game was released in 2015 for PS4, PC game and Mac and in 2016 for PlayStation Vita.

This Is Abuse[edit]

In 2014, McDonnell worked with the Home Office on their This Is Abuse Campaign, alongside other prominent YouTubers, in order to educate people about the importance of consensual sex.[55] He also made a video regarding consent on his YouTube channel.[56] This campaign by the Home Office came following public discovery of allegiations of sexually abusive behavior committed by British YouTuber Alex Day (an ex-friend/collaborator of McDonnell).

Production companies[edit]

In June 2011, McDonnell founded Coollike Productions which would become his base for the production of short films and his YouTube channel, according to the online business website Duedil, McDonnell is the company's only director and in May 2013 the company was renamed as Qualitea Productions. It is based in Central London. Reports circulated that a high-level production company wanted to buy the company last year, however, these reports have since been quashed.[57]


McDonnell was interviewed on BBC News about his rise to internet stardom. He also participated in the Euro 2008 Zeitgeist Google conference, where he spoke about YouTube along with Mia Rose (miaarose) and Peter Oakley (geriatric1927). This was a conference to honour online users of popular websites. He featured as a guest on Robert Llewellyn's web series Carpool in the episode released on 15 May 2009.[58] McDonnell has also made guest appearances on Lily Allen and Friends and The Gadget Show.

McDonnell was also interviewed for Outlook on the BBC World Service[59] and for an article in The Guardian where he talks about the five years of YouTube and his life on the video website.

On 6 June 2010, McDonnell presented the YouTube Audience Award to The Inbetweeners as part of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Television Awards. In mid-July 2010, McDonnell appeared on KTLA with Hank Green, known on YouTube as one of the Vlogbrothers, and iJustine to promote VidCon 2010, the first international conference for online video makers. That October he made a programme with James Max of LBC 97.3 about how to make money on the internet.[60] In December 2010, McDonnell filmed a series of behind the scenes videos for Doctor Who Confidential during the filming of the Doctor Who Christmas special A Christmas Carol.

McDonnell was purportedly approached to be a Housemate on the eighth series, and first revived series of Celebrity Big Brother but declined the offer.[61]

Astronomer Phil Plait wrote an article for ("Charlie Talks Saturn," 8 December 2012) to rave about McDonnell's ongoing series of science videos, including "Fun Science: Saturn," on which Plait gave him some assistance. Plait found McDonnell to be a "science nerd" and a "really nice guy" who makes "engaging, silly and fun" videos that reach lots of young people who "need to find their own love of science."

A 13 February 2013, New York Times article, "Blogging with Video, Hoping to Go Viral," noted that McDonnell, described as "a musician and professed nerd with soulful eyes", has 1.8 million subscribers to [his] video blog or vlog.


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  2. ^
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  13. ^ The day in a life of series: Charlie is so cool like
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  32. ^ "Liam Dryden • On This Week". Retrieved 13 July 2014.
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  34. ^ polyhex. polyhex. Retrieved on 2011-12-28.
  35. ^ iTunes – Music – Here Comes My Baby – EP by Sons of Admirals. (2010-10-25). Retrieved on 2011-12-28.
  36. ^ Sons of Admirals on The 5:19 Show!. YouTube. Retrieved on 2011-12-28.
  37. ^ "Sons of Admirals Website". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
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  42. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  43. ^ "Just Giving". Retrieved 5 October 2010.
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  47. ^ "Episode 7". Chartjackers. Series 1. Episode 7. UK. 24 October 2009. BBC. BBC Two.
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  54. ^
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  58. ^ "Robert Llewellyn @bobbyllew". CelebrityTweet!. This weekend I am shooting a carpool with charlieissocoollike.
  59. ^ "The YouTubing teenager getting four million hits a month". BBC. Charlie has used the website to broadcast his homemade videos and currently gets an amazing four million hits a month.
  60. ^ "James Max speaks to Charlie McDonnell – 3 Oct 10". LBC Podcasts. Listen back to the Business Hour with James Max as he was joined by the most popular YouTuber in the UK – Charlie McDonnell, AKA Charlie Is So Cool Like.
  61. ^ "Twitter / @coollike: I would like to..."

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