Wait, what… it’s 2017 already? That was quick!
It may have felt never-ending, but 2016 was a pretty great year for the UK YouTube community. And through it all, TenEighty was there covering the highs and lows, uncovering the hot topics and shining a light on up-and-coming talent.
As it is now tradition (we did this at the end of 2014 and in 2015 too), let’s look back through TenEighty’s lens on the year that was. It’s been a rollercoaster but we’ve come out of 2016 older and (mostly) wiser. We’ll try not to get too emotional. But you have been warned!
Our big interviews
We kicked off 2016 with Mawaan Rizwan, whose BBC Three documentary How Gay Is Pakistan? had been met with acclaim. Coinciding with LGBTQ+ History month, Mawaan spoke about his clown-like approach to comedy, and how gender and sexuality inform his work.
In March we spoke to Hazel Hayes about making it as a filmmaker. She spoke candidly about her time working at Google, and her personal and professional relationships, as well as being comfortable with her age.
Poet Suli Breaks was our cover star for April, and he didn’t shy away from the tough topics. From the responsibilities that come with being an influencer to race and religion, Suli even gave us the lowdown on his then-upcoming tour Not A Role Model.
For May, we caught Lex Croucher in the witching hour (that’s a reference to the photoshoot, the images were amazing, okay?!). She opened up about using her platform to tackle the issues women aged 18 to 24 face, and her signature dry blend of silly and serious.
Celebrating ten years on YouTube, we spoke to Thomas ‘TomSka’ Ridgewell in July. From growing up “unchallenged” to being a vocal “privileged ally”, Tom shared his views on where YouTube as a platform is going, the culture it has created around it, and valuing the opinions of teenagers.
Speaking openly about her struggles with anxiety, eating disorders, and confidence, we caught up with Melanie Murphy in September. She was refreshingly honest about her short-lived relationship with US-based creator Toby Turner, who was accused of sexual abuse by multiple victims this year.
Dodie Clark was the exclusive cover star of our 2016 print edition, and her interview went live on TenEighty in October. She discussed her new EP and US tour, as well as brand deals and oversharing online.
And finally, in December we spoke to fashion and beauty vlogger Grace F. Victory, off the back of her BBC Three documentary Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets. Having grown up around “a lot of poverty and a lot of crime”, Grace revealed how she found her voice and success, and tackled issues such as diversity and body positivity.
Breaking into the mainstream
2016 was undeniably the year when many of our YouTube favourites saw mainstream success: TV shows, films, high-budget web series, music releases, tours, books, and much more. Here are some of the projects that got us pumped and made us proud.
In January, Stuart Ashen announced the sequel to GameChild, during a fan screening at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square. We’re excited to see if GameChild 2 surfaces in 2017.
That same month, Hannah Witton graced our television screens, hosting ITV’s Love Fix alongside Ollie Locke, Katie Mulgrew, and Kojo. “It’s open, funny, informative and has a big heart… and there’s no topic that we’re too afraid to cover,” she said.
In March we spoke to Jim Chapman about Luxury of Less, a three-part series he was hosting with British GQ. The series looked at male fashion and explored the concept of “less is more”.
After almost three years in the role of Eponine, Carrie Hope Fletcher left Les Miserables. But it was announced in March that she’d taken up the role of Truly Scrumptious on the UK tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Candice O’Reilly released Sea Legs and Other Stories in March. We caught up with her to discuss the creative process behind it and find out who she looks to for inspiration.
In April, TenEighty caught up with Louis Cole and Dave Erasmus right in the middle of the Solvey World Tour. The duo held “idea jam sessions” across the globe, in search of practical solutions to issues affecting the world. They announced seven winners in June, each receiving between $1,000 and $10,000 to fund their ideas.
2016 was also a big year for Bry. He went on tour in April, released his debut album in November, and supported Twenty One Pilots during the European leg of their arena tour.
June also saw the debut of Jack Howard and Dean Dobbs‘s first ever series, Jack & Dean of All Trades, on Fullscreen’s streaming service. It was successful enough to be commissioned for a second season, with filming taking place in November.
Revealing some big news in July, Hannah Witton announced her first book, Doing It. It will cover all things sex and relationships, and is set for release April 2017.
But Grace didn’t stop there, she also worked on MTV’s Sex Squad on their Snapchat Discover channel in October AND she released ANOTHER documentary in December, The Cost of Cute: The Darker Side of the Puppy Trade. What a busy bee!
Armed with a Hollywood budget, the trailer for Universal’s Laid in America starring Olajide ‘KSI’ Olatunji and Caspar Lee landed in August. TenEighty later spoke to actress Syd Wilder to address the film’s alleged misogynistic depiction of women, and we attended the London premiere.
Lending their voices to the UK release of DreamWorks’s Trolls in September, Connie Glynn and Carrie Hope Fletcher became Moxie Dewdrop and Cookie respectively.
October was a big month for Dodie Clark. Her EP Intertwined was catapulted to Number One in the UK iTunes bestselling preorders charts and she sold out her headline show at the Bush Hall in London.
Just as their tour came to an end, a film version of Dan and Phil’s The Amazing Tour is Not On Fire was made available on YouTube Red in October.
Rocketing to the top of the bestsellers chart, The Sidemen’s debut book sold over 26,000 copies in its first week. The Sidemen consist of YouTube gamers Olajide ‘KSI’ Olatunji, Vikram Barn, Harry Lewis, Simon Minter, Josh Bradley, Tobi Brown, and Ethan Payne.
That same month, Series Three of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror was released on Netflix, and none other than Jamie Paul popped up in the second episode, Playtest. He told us what it was like working on set, all the while downplaying his role.
Straight off her stint in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Carrie Hope Fletcher picked up her next role as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family: The Musical Comedy. The show will be touring the UK in 2017.
BBC Three were at it again, commissioning another documentary from one of our faves. Riyadh Khalaf‘s six-part LGBTQ+ themed series will air in 2017.
Speaking of Riyadh, he posed naked for a six-page spread in the December issue of Gay Times.
The big talking points
While TenEighty has always celebrated the accomplishments of the UK and Ireland’s content creators, we also cover the topics that the community are talking about most. Whether it was the big debates that we explored in features, or notable news stories that created buzz, 2016 had its fair share of challenging topics.
At the start of the year Jamie Pine and Mike Jerry starred in Channel 4’s Rich Kids Go Shopping. Following airing, the pair were scrutinised online regarding their financial standings. Jamie chose to meet the criticism head-on in a TenEighty article, denying that he had taken out a loan and correcting some of the misrepresentations in the final cut.
Following the launch of React World in January, US-based creators Benny and Rafi Fine (The Fine Brothers) began losing tens of thousands of subscribers. The pair had filed an application for trademark protection on “React” and through React World aimed to enable creators to license Fine Brothers format for their own use.
The negative response from YouTubers eventually led to the retraction of React World (and to our Five of the Best: Reaction Videos). By the end of February their channel had lost almost 500,000 subscribers, but those viewers weren’t gone for long; the duo ended 2016 on over 14.6 million.
In February Jack Howard uploaded an “unscripted ramble” to his personal channel in which he revealed his dissatisfaction with the quality of content on YouTube. “I am not interested in or stimulated by any of the stuff that’s deemed ‘popular’ on YouTube these days… It doesn’t interest me at all. I feel very out of the loop,” he said.
This led to a wave of responses from creators big and small, which we explored in How To Make YouTube Engaging Again. The feature weighed up arguments regarding authenticity, creativity and being relatable. We also took a closer look at videos discussing YouTube culture, in our Five of the Best: YouTube Culture Videos.
After just under a two-year run, Radio 1 announced The Internet Takeover would be ending in April. Launching in 2014 with Dan Howell and Phil Lester, the show went on to have alternating hosts such as Benjamin Cook, Patricia Bright, Marcus Butler, Tyler Oakley, and more. It was replaced by The Student Radio Playlist.
In June, the UK YouTube community paid tribute to Christina Grimmie. The US-based singer-songwriter and vlogger was shot dead following a performance in Florida. Christina had been a staple of YouTube since 2009, seeing online success through her cover songs, and was a contestant on NBC’s The Voice in 2014.
Louise Pentland made a bold decision in 2016 when she announced that she was dropping the name Sprinkleofglitter, and planned to make more mature content on her channel. This generated a lot of words of encouragement from the community, as well as headlines from the BBC and The Sun claiming she was quitting her channel.
On a different note, LGBTQ+ vlogger Calum McSwiggan claimed in June that he had been attacked in a homophobic hate crime, posting an image of him in hospital on Instagram. Reports spilled out on other media outlets that these claims were untrue, and that Calum had been seen vandalising a car.
Calum pleaded guilty to charges of vandalism in November and was ordered to pay a $7,000 fine. The charge of filing a false police report was dropped.
Various YouTube gamers also found themselves caught up in legal matters. In July, Tom Cassell and Trevor Martin were sued after it emerged they misled viewers over their ownership of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling site.
Felix Kjellberg refuted headlines that claimed he failed to disclose a sponsorship deal with Warner Bros regarding game Shadow of Mordor.
Yogscast collaborator Craig Stewart was jailed for grooming girls online in August.
And in September, Craig Douglas and Dylan Rigby were charged under the Gambling Act for advertising unlawful gambling, through their website FUTGalaxy.
YouTube ran into criticism over the launch of its YouTube Heroes initiative, a new set of tools which allows creators to gain points for moderating community content. Concerns were raised over the potential misuse of tools such as “mass-flagging”.
TenEighty took a closer look at Facebook Video to find out whether or not the platform is challenging YouTube’s crown. We spoke some of the UK’s longest running creators, Jazza John and Myles Dyer, who have begun utilising Facebook, as well as Ben Phillips who has amassed an audience of over eight million on the platform.
In December, Felix Kjellberg – YouTube’s most-subscribed creator – was fast approaching 50 million subscribers. Before he hit the landmark, Felix called out YouTube for a series of issues that many believed to be part of an “algorithm change” and threatened to delete his channel. He later deleted his second channel, Jackscepticeye2, instead.
However the problems raised by Felix resonated with the community, leading to a wide discussion online. These issues included a sudden decrease in the average amount of views videos get, users being unsubscribed from channels without their knowledge, and videos not appearing in subscription feeds.
We explored these claims in Is YouTube Leaving Creators Behind?, speaking to Luke Cutforth, Scola Dondo, Mary Akemon, and a representative from the Internet Creators Guild. “YouTube is not broken… YouTube is changing and doesn’t seem to care if it leaves us all behind,” said Luke.
Showcasing the best
TenEighty is as much about showcasing the best the UK YouTube community has to offer as well as covering the news, and we didn’t let our side down in 2016.
Five of the Best continued to track key video trends – some around seasonal occasions such as Valentine’s Day, International Women’s Day, summer lookbooks, Halloween, or Christmas, and others around content type, such as poetry, gender and sexuality, mental health, dating, parent collaborations, Disney-themed, and many more.
Since our launch, we’ve highlighted the best five videos from the UK YouTube community each week through the Weekly Round-Up. The column continued to mix big hitters with smaller creators this year, and we look forward to introducing new YouTubers to our readers in 2017.
Alongside this, we spent 2016 spotlighting various channels we’d discovered with their own mini-features. Adrian Bliss, What’s Good London, Shoshana and Meredith Bratton, Sam Saffold-Geri, Erika Felton, Elle Meadows, and Chloe Rose all received their very own Channel Spotlight.
In April, we shone a light on the UK’s emerging trans vlogger community, spotlighting creators such as Charlie Martin, Fox Fisher, Jake Edwards, Jamie Raines, Lewis Hancox, Naomhán O’Connor, and Romario Wanliss.
Following the release of their New Form Digital-commissioned short films, as part of Incubator 3, we caught up with Khyan Mansley, Tim Hautekiet, and Sammy Paul.
Talking of New Form Digital, Emily Diana Ruth‘s Cold was commissioned for a series on Verizon’s go90. We chatted with her about the production, and also listed all the need-to-knows about the series ahead of its October release.
Throughout the year, we spotlighted the work of London-based photographer Linda Blacker, over the course of her fairytale-inspired series with YouTubers.
This included shoots with Dodie Clark and Hazel Hayes as the Snow White and the Snow Queen, Lucy and Lydia Connell as the daughters of Mother Nature, Helen Anderson with Niki and Sammy Albon in The Guardians of the Maze, Rose Dix and Rosie Spaughton as the Queen of Spades and Hearts, and Zoe Sugg as Sleeping Beauty.
2016 also saw the conclusion of Edd Gould‘s series Eddsworld. Edd died in 2012, yet his pioneering online animation lived on under Thomas ‘TomSka’ Ridgewell directorship thanks to funding from fans. TenEighty spoke to those who knew Edd best, reflecting on the success of Eddsworld and their memories with him.
Picking up awards
The glittering red carpet didn’t get any rest in 2016, as content creators picked up gongs and nominations left, right and centre.
The Shorty Award nominations were announced in January with a fair few UK creators appearing on the list. Louise Pentland went on to win YouTube Guru of the Year, with Jonathan and Anna Saccone-Joly winning in the Parenting category.
In March, Cherry Wallis won Nickelodeon’s UK Favourite Breakthrough Vlogger, while April saw Troye Sivan awarded GLAAD’s Outstanding Music Artist, and in June, Tanya Burr was crowned Glamour‘s YouTuber of the Year.
Summer in the City held its own award ceremony for the first time in 2016. Adrian Bliss won the Breakthrough Award, and Nathan Zed was named Vlogger of the Year, while Jack and Dean of All Trades won for YouTuber Series, Let It Be by Bertie Gilbert for Short Film of the Year, Sick of Losing Soulmates by Dodie Clark for YouTuber Song of the Year, and Thomas ‘TomSka’ Ridgewell was honoured with the Community Spirit Award.
In the second half of the year, the Streamy nominations were announced. PJ Liguori‘s Vimeo-hosted series, Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures, went on to win three awards: Chris Kendall for Best Actor, and PJ for Best Director and Best Costume Design.
Tyler Oakley picked up a gong from UK LGBTQ+ publication Attitude, the Young Hero Award. And Dan Howell and Phil Lester won Best Vlogger at the BBC Radio 1’s Teen Award.
But of all the award ceremonies, the biggest must have been the first ever British Online Creator Awards, which took place at the London Palladium on 22 November. 14 categories were announced by the BONCAs in October, with three awards open to public vote: British Creator of the Year, International Creator of the Year, and Collaboration of the Year. A full list of the nominees can be viewed here.
Dan Howell and Phil Lester were the big winners on the night, picking up three awards between them. TenEighty attended and gave thorough coverage throughout the night.
Wrapping up the year, Hannah Witton, Zoe London, and Fleur de Force were among the winners at the Cosmopolitan Influencer Awards. Carrie Hope Fletcher was nominated for a WhatsOnStage Award, and Hannah was named among BBC’s Girls’ Champions as part of their 100 Women season.
Hitting up all the events
Fans getting to meet their favourite creators in person is a scenario we’re lucky to have in the YouTube community and there were plenty of events in 2016 to satisfy that desire.
We hosted panel the LGBT on YouTube panel at National Student Pride in February. Then, we attended Glamour‘s inaugural beauty festival, reporting on the Beauty x Social Media panel in March.
We popped our heads into Jack Howard and Dean Dobbs sold-out show at the Soho Theatre in August, as well as the VIP screening of The Darkest Dawn in October. The film stars Bethan Leadley, Cherry Wallis, Jamie Paul, Mawaan Rizwan, and Stuart Ashen.
In October, we jumped over the pond to Toronto, Canada to cover Buffer Festival 2016. We caught up with Adrian Bliss, Melanie Murphy, Riyadh Khalaf, Hazel Hayes, and many more about their upcoming film projects.
Stand Up To Cancer’s YouTube live streams were back raising money for cancer research. There were two key events: first Joe Sugg and Caspar Lee’s sponsored silence, then the main show hosted by Niki and Sammy Albon and featuring literally EVERYONE.
And those YouTubers were busy attending as many premieres as possible: Alice Through The Looking Glass, Suicide Squad, Bridget Jones’s Baby, and Doctor Strange, to name a few. Let’s not forget the premieres of YouTuber projects such as Caspar and Olajide ‘KSI’ Olatunji’s Laid in America, or Caspar and Joe’s Hit The Road: USA, and the DVD launch of LouiseLIVE by Louise Pentland.
They even got to go to the opening of Harry Potter‘s Privet Drive at Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London!
After the event we collated our top nine moments, but if you want to dig deeper into particular panels we recommend checking out Ethnicity and Diversity Online, Smaller YouTubers, LGBTQ+, #YouTubeHonestyHour, and Popularity vs Integrity.
We even represented our readers and jumped on a few panels ourselves. Co-Editor Teoh Lander-Boyce spoke on the YouTube as a Source for News panel alongside other media outlets, and hosted the Mental Health panel. Meanwhile, Co-Editor Alex Brinnand hosted the Calling People Out panel.
We couldn’t end our SITC section without talking about the unexpected stars of the event – Jedward. Many fans and creators met them throughout the weekend and we basically just put the full transcript of our chat with them online after the weekend. It’s worth a read for their unique perspective on the YouTube world! Did you know Jedward created vlogging?
Having a bit of fun
Them YouTubers are a cheeky bunch and are always making us laugh. When The Sun got up in arms about Zoe Sugg posting an image in her underwear, the community responded by joining her under the hashtag #WeStandWithZoe.
We couldn’t help casting our favourite YouTubers in different roles throughout the year: to coincide with the release of X-Men: Apocalypse we gave them super powers, and when school started up in September we made them teachers.
And of course there were PLENTY of fun lists throughout the last 12 months: 13 Times YouTubers Took Television By Storm, Ten Times Dan Howell Was All Of Us, Eight Times YouTubers Were #SquadGoals, 11 Best Moments of Adrian Bliss’s Vlune, Our 11 Favourite Dan & Phil Moments, and The Ten Best Moments From YouTube Rewind 2016, just to name a few.
If none of that makes you giggle, then we guess we’re not doing a very good job. Instead, why not look at photos of pets paired with YouTubers. Surely that’ll do something for you!
Upping our game
Okay – so we do have to be a bit self-congratulatory here – but stick with us. We took TenEighty to the next level in 2016 as our team grew and we achieved new heights online and in the real world.
In July we launched our Patreon page with an accompanying video starring Charlie McDonnell, Bethan Leadley, Suli Breaks, Melanie Murphy, Lucy Moon, Evan Edinger, Jazza John, Laurbubble, Chloe Dungate, and Sammy Paul. We were honestly flattered to have them involved.
Our third print edition was released in August. Dodie Clark graced the cover, and it featured the very best of what we offer online across 76 pages. We sold the magazine at Summer in the City and then through our online store. There are only a handful of copies left, so if you want one, you’d better grab them fast!
Speaking of our 2016 magazine, we were honoured to have it made available in the first ever YouTube Creator Store.
But what must be our biggest achievement in 2016 was The TenEighty Yearbook. It featured exclusive images of over 80 creators from both the UK and international YouTube community, with (tongue-firmly-in-cheek) yearbook-style awards. If you haven’t seen it yet, please do check it out: we are so proud. The YouTube community really are a beautiful bunch.
Onwards and upwards…
2017: our bodies (and our keyboards, and our cameras) are ready!
As we’ve said, it has been an amazing year on YouTube and we can’t wait to see what everyone does in the next 12 months. If anyone you know ever asks “what do YouTubers even do?” or “don’t they just sit in their bedrooms all day?” – perhaps show them this article.
Want more? Read some of the articles mentioned above, or our reviews of previous years:
- The TenEighty Yearbook 2016
- Is YouTube Leaving Creators Behind?
- Dodie Clark: Quirky Little Thing
- Thomas Ridgewell: How To Lose Friends And Influence People
- 2015 on TenEighty in Review
- 2014 on TenEighty in Review