A group of friends from Trafford are celebrating surpassing 100,000 subscribers on YouTube after launching a channel at the start of the lockdown.
The Office Blokes - made up of Dave Clark, 35, Mike Halliday, 55, and Darren Bell, 48 - never expected to go viral.
The trio work together in Altrincham for a document management company that scans and stores documents for the NHS.
Darren took over the family business five years ago and started to think about how he could make use of the couple of empty office rooms in the building.
“We rallied about a few ideas and one of the guys who works with us used to be a sound engineer and suggested we set up a podcast studio,” Darren told the Manchester Evening News.
“They had really started to become popular - everyone seemed to be doing one.”
Originally from Hale, Darren often frequented the same bars as the local sportsmen and knew some of them were travelling to places like MediaCityUK to record their own podcasts.
“I bumped into people like Freddie Flintoff and just mentioned the idea to them and they all seemed really it,” he added.
Realising its potential, Dave, Mike and Darren started work on creating a designated podcast studio.
The idea was that it’d be an in-house production facility that would edit shows for people.
Dave, who is also from Hale, and Mike, from Timperley, also spread the word and celebrities were soon keen to record their podcast series in the tailor-made studio.
Atlantic Podcast Studio opened its doors on March 20, 2020. But, a week later, the entire country was put into lockdown following the spread of coronavirus.
“We went from having everything set up and ready to go to nothing overnight,” Darren said
“Everything got cancelled and shut down and everything we had planned couldn’t happen anymore.”
The pals continued with their day job throughout the lockdown - but then another idea hit them: they could do a podcast from their own office.
Shortly afterwards, the Office Blokes podcast launched. In each episode, Mike, Dave and Darren would ‘ramble on' about things going on at the time.
“It was mostly about Covid because that’s all that was happening really,” Darren added.
“To begin with, it was pretty small, we must have been getting about 40 listeners and most of them were just our family tuning in.
“But, we tried to mix it up and we spoke to a few different people. We spoke to a doctor and a beekeeper just to hear about what it was like working in their industry.”
The studio was also used by Real Housewives of Cheshire star Nicole Sealey and husband Joe Sealey to film their podcast series.
Then, the ‘blokes’ decided to try a video series.
“We already had the experience of sitting behind a mic so we thought about trying something different,” Darren explained.
“We set up a reaction channel where we’d react to different things, such as sports and comedy shows.
“One of the first things we reacted to was heavy metal and rap music, which none of us had really listened to before.
“People responded really well to it, we were expecting to get around 100 subscribers after a year but I think we got that within the first month."
Since July 2020, the Office Blokes React channel on YouTube has had over 22 million views.
Their most popular video is currently ‘British Blokes React to NFL’ which has over 450k views.
“I think it works so well because we’re just three local lads,” Darren said.
“We’ve realised we have a big audience in America and I think it’s because we all have different perspectives on things.
"I think they also like that it’s three generations.
“A lot of these American channels are a bit over-the-top - you can tell some of them are fake.
“But we’re just three grumpy men watching something and saying ‘yeah, that’s ok’ - I think people like that we’re genuine.
"We’re not out to make fun out of people, we’re just here to have fun."
Following the runaway success of their YouTube channel, the Blokes recently launched another channel where they try worldwide delights like Japanese candy and American whiskey.
"A lot of people think it's easy to make videos or do a podcast - everyone thinks they can do it, Darren said.
"But there's actually quite a lot of planning that goes behind things. We’re publishing three to four videos a day at the moment.
"It's hard to build up an audience, we've pushed and pushed and that's how we've managed to make it work for us.
“We all still have our day jobs but we’ll finish up and spend a few hours after work just recording different videos and things.
“Obviously, it helps that it’s in the same building but it’s been a nice way for us all to spend the evening together having a laugh."
You can follow the Office Blokes on YouTube here.