It’s 10 years since Charlie bit his brother Harry’s finger, catapulting them to YouTube fame. Understandably, they have changed quite a lot since they found notoriety in one of the earliest internet viral videos. So where are they now?
Well, Harry, now 13, and Charlie, 11, still live with their parents in Buckinghamshire. The fame and glory doesn’t mean they have bought designer flats on the banks of the Thames just yet. The video earned their family roughly £1million, picking up 850million hits on YouTube. A decade later, lots has changed. Another two boys – Jasper, nine, and Rupert, six – have joined Harry and Charlie in the family.
Their mother, Shelley Davies-Carr, 40, said: ‘Without the clip, we couldn’t have had Rupert.’ As well as continuing to feature on the family YouTube channel – which has amassed more than a billion views – internet stardom has seen the boys travel the world to make TV appearances, and star in adverts for Renault, EE, Delta Air Lines, Ragu and Gerber; a firm that makes ‘finger food’ for toddlers.
Since spreading like digital wildfire online, the original 55-second clip has been parodied left right and centre. In 2014, a Jimmy Kimmel sketch saw Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep team up with Chris and Liam Hemsworth for a hilarious homage: ‘Bitman Begins’. At the time of writing, ‘Charlie bit my finger – again!’ is the 90th most viewed clip on YouTube with 849,126,156 hits. What’s life like for them now?
There are no yachts nor Lamborghinis on the driveway. No ceiling-high movie screens, or original Banksys adorning the walls. They live in the same house, with the very same sofa, even, that featured in the globally famous clip. Dad Howard still works full-time as an IT consultant. So, what happened to the piles of YouTube cash?
Charlie said: ‘The video has made money? What money?’ Added Harry: ‘He keeps it very secret, don’t you daddy?’ While their parents confess to making sure their sons always have ‘nice bicycles’, most of the YouTube-based revenue has been invested in private education for the boys. Howard Davies-Carr, 48, said: ‘Charlie once came home and said, ‘Is it true you can buy me a Ferrari?’
‘In reality, we don’t actually treat them that much.’ Uploaded to YouTube on 22 May 2007, the memorable viral smash was never actually supposed to go public.
Howard added: ‘It was only meant for family members. ‘In 2007, sharing video files – about 50 megabytes – was hard. It was too big for email, so YouTube stood out as a great vehicle to share videos.’ Yet the boys’ transformation into digital celebrities very nearly never happened at all. Their dad Howard had planned to remove the file from YouTube.
He revealed: ‘After people had seen it, I didn’t see any point it being on there any longer. ‘But when I went back to delete it, it was then I realised the video had a lot of views – almost doubling every day, so we decided to embrace it.’
By October 2009 ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ had become YouTube’s most watched video with 129 million hits, ousting the equally iconic ‘Evolution of Dance’. Charlie and Harry kept their crown for 171 days, before being dethroned by Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’. The current number one most watched YouTube video is Psy’s Gangnam Style, with 2.8 billion views. This is followed by ‘See You Again’ by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth (2.7 billion views), Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’ (2.5 billion), ‘Uptown Funk’ by Mark Ronson (2.4 billion) and ‘Masha and The Bear Episode 17’ (2.1 billion).