August 14, 2006
British Retiree Becomes Surprise YouTube Star
By Belinda Goldsmith
NEW YORK -- YouTube, the popular online home video site, has an unexpected star -- a septuagenarian British widower -- whose soft-spoken, humble manner has won the hearts of users of the youth dominated Web site.
In the clip, which starts with "geriatric gripes and grumbles" and some blues music, Peter tells how he became addicted to YouTube.
"It's a fascinating place to go to see all the wonderful videos that you young people have produced so I thought I would have a go at doing one myself," he says, sitting against a backdrop of floral wallpaper and family photographs.
"What I hope I will be able to do is to just to bitch and grumble about life in general from the perspective of an old person who has been there and done that and hopefully you will respond in some way by your comments."
YouTube is one of the fastest-growing sites on the World Wide Web and announced last month that 100 million clips are watched every day. The site has almost 20 million visitors a month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.
In his profile, Peter says he is widower living alone in the country in the middle of England. His favorite music is blues and he has loved motorcycles all his life. He says has no piercings or tattoos. His profile says he is 78 but he says in a video clip he is 79.
He has since posted another five videos on his YouTube page -- www.youtube.com/profile?user=geriatric1927 -- and has had about 79,000 viewings and 6,500 subscribers, putting him at the top of the most-subscribed list on YouTube in the past week.
In his second video, Peter starts with a photograph of himself on a motorbike and says he has received over 4,700 e-mails. "I am absolutely overwhelmed and don't quite know what to say," says the white-haired pensioner who keeps his eyes closed for most of his videos.
"I just need to say thank you ... this YouTube experience has been one of the major changes and breakthroughs in my life and given me a whole new world to experience."
Peter, who talks about his life, the horrors of war and police harassment, has received wide praise for his videos and for proving technology is not just for the younger generation.
"It's great that someone from your generation has chosen to share their views on life, and a shame more elderly people don't too," wrote one commentator.
"I don't have a grandpa, but if I could choose, I'd want you to be mine!" says another.
A few who mocked him were quickly rebuked by the rest of the online community.
"IGNORE all the rude comments because obviously the people who leave nasty comments on your page are those who have the least number of comments on their videos!" said one.
Attempts by Reuters to contact Peter by e-mail were not immediately successful with the latest YouTube star inundated with e-mails.