It’s just over three years since Liverpool-born Sophie McCartney shot to fame after her parenting parody of Ed Sheeran song, Shape of You, went viral.
The self-styled ‘comedimum’ could not have foreseen that 25 million Facebook views later, she would have amassed a cult following from fellow parents who love her down-to-earth, no-holes-barred approach to parenting her children Jack, 7 and five-year-old Evelyn.
Sophie, originally from Allerton, began writing a blog, Tired ‘N Tested, in April 2017.
But it wasn’t until a year later when Sophie posted the parody ‘Smell Of You’ – swapping Sheeran’s lyrics about meeting a girl for the mundane life of Tom Hardy-loving, nit-phobic, Dairylea-covered mums – that she started to get noticed.
Sophie told the ECHO: “When I look back it was crazy, going viral is so overwhelming. I posted it and within hours it had reached 50,000 views and I was like ‘is that good?’ because I didn’t have a clue.
“My phone was going off left, right and centre and I started panic-eating crumpets in a corner because all of a sudden I had people following me that I didn’t know and I didn’t know what to say to them, so it was quite terrifying.”
But it’s not the career that Sophie, a former pupil at Springwood Primary School and St Hilda’s High School, ever thought she would have.
The 36-year-old said: “I went to Leeds Met, it was further up the M62 so it was far enough away from my parents but close enough if I needed to come home and get my washing done.
“I didn’t really know what to fill in on the UCAS form. All my friends were going to be doctors or lawyers and I wasn’t clever enough for that, so I thought I’d do PR.
“I think at the time I was watching a lot of Absolutely Fabulous, and I thought that looks good – lunches, designer handbags and four years down the line I found out it was nothing like that.”
Sophie said she was lucky to walk straight into a PR job in London “working in the lowest of the low” position, trying to work her way up and moved down south with her boyfriend Steven Lilley, now husband of 11 years.
She said: “I met Steve in the third year of uni, our eyes met across a sticky dancefloor and we’ve been together ever since.
“We’ve moved around over the years as Steve is a sports physio, he works for Liverpool FC now, I made him a Northerner and brought him into the Scouse fold.”
The couple moved to Cheshire in 2011 and Sophie had their first child Jack, in 2013, and then Evelyn two years later. At the time Sophie was freelancing for a PR firm in Manchester and fell into vlogging after quitting her job.
Sophie said: “I was freelancing on and off from when Jack was about seven months and then Evelyn came along. There was just no point of working five days a week from 6am to 6pm to pay to put both of them in nursery, so I decided to quit.
“Now motherhood is lovely and very rewarding but I was in a creative job in PR and I did a lot of writing. I liked being able to flex my mind, so I started a written blog. I posted it on Facebook and I had quite good responses.
Watch Sophie’s Ed Sheeran parody below:
“And then someone suggested taking it to the next level by doing a vlog. I was like I can’t do that and then I had this idea of a parenting parody. I went from never wanting to appear in front of a camera to a full-on music video.
“The idea for Smell of You came to me because the Ed Sheeran song used to get stuck in my head and I would sing it to Evelyn and change the words around.
“I still can’t believe how big it got – 25 million views until Facebook made me take it down due to copyright issues, oops.”
Over the last three years, Sophie has turned her foray into vlogging into a full-time career.
“My videos are my bread and butter and so I get a monthly salary from the revenue from the Facebook ads. I’m earning more in a month then I would do, doing PR. But it really is the luck of the draw, you don’t know which videos are going to do well.
“But it’s up to me how many videos I do. I also do sponsored stuff, but I only work with brands I genuinely like otherwise you lose that authenticity.”
Sophie has even won a Funny Women Award for Best Comedy Web Series 2020 for her online wildlife mocumentary ‘Planet Birth‘, a David Attenborough-esque spoof that sees her twist the everyday adventures of modern motherhood into a series of comedy-gold shorts.
Sophie was also offered the chance to do stand-up earlier this year, opening for Tova Leigh, who like Sophie is a content creator, writer and performer, and has a huge following in America and across the world.
But before she could even step on the stage, Sophie surprisingly had to have hypnotherapy to quell her nerves.
“I did five or six gigs, the biggest one was in front of 200 people. The first one was terrifying. I wasn’t sleeping, crying in corners, and had actual hypnotherapy, I just had in my head that I wouldn’t remember anything.
“Once I was up there, I knew I could do it. I can’t explain the adrenaline, I just wanted to do it again, I get a high from hearing people laugh.”
Sophie admittedly has always been a bit of a class clown.
She said: “My dad is your typical Scouser and always says that I’ve been entertaining people since I was able to speak. I’ve never done anything theatrical before but I’ve always been able to make people laugh especially in uncomfortable situations, like filling awkward silences at funerals or making funny observations.”
And it’s this observational humour that has Sophie’s fans grinning every week when she uploads a new video with the latest one tackling a mortifying nit infestation in her home.
“I didn’t think this would ever happen to me, I’ve never experienced nits, we’ve been riddled with them.”
But more recently Sophie had to share a more personal and sensitive video with her fans after ‘going AWOL’ from social media after experiencing a miscarriage during lockdown.
“Lockdown miscarriage has to be the worst type of miscarriage. I had one between Jack and Evelyn but it was spontaneous and it was all over quite quickly. But this was horrendous and just dragged on.
“I had to go to the hospital on my own, Steve couldn’t come with me because of the rules around Covid and I was going back and forth for about four weeks until they confirmed it was definitely a miscarriage. It was mental torture.
“I just had to take myself away. I couldn’t be my normal happy self, people follow for a good time but I was being inundated with messages asking me if I was okay. So I felt a slight pressure, not a lot, to explain my absence, why I had gone AWOL and address it in some capacity.
“After the initial trauma of saying the words out loud, it was very cathartic and a weight lifted. Talking about things does help and helped other people as well. I was so amazed at the messages from women in the same scenario happening at the same time. I had lots of messages off men too whose partners were going through this and they know how to deal with it.”
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Lockdown certainly had its ups and downs for Sophie but it also provided a captured audience of fans who wanted to watch her content for some light relief.
Talking about her plans for the next few months, Sophie revealed she is writing a book.
She said: “I’ve got lots of things in the pipeline. I’m writing a book which encompasses motherhood but it’s not all about that. It’s about my progression as a 20 something who never wanted to get married with all the joys, highs and lows in between.
“I’ve also been approached by several production companies to write for telly so it’s all very exciting.”