The Late Late Toy Show is almost upon us and The Daily Shift’s Catherine Collins previews what’s sure to be another great show to begin the holiday festivities…
It happens every year, letters are sent or are being sent, chimneys are being cleaned, children are on their best behaviour on the off chance that Santa’s elves will be watching. This Friday evening at 9pm Mum and Dad will be letting the kids stay up late with promises of sweets and threats of coal if they don’t play nice as all settle down to watch The Late Late Toy Show.
Ryan Tubridy has been presenting The Late Late Show now since 2009 and has claimed that presenting The Late Late Toy Show in particular was one of his lifetime ambitions. His style of hosting the show caters for the adult audience as well as the younger generation, he actively plays and engages with the children on the show, but will shoot a quip that goes over the child’s head. The audience then roars laughing or titters quietly while the child smiles widely, none the wiser to the joke. Tubridy’s predecessor, Pat Kenny tended to have a more formal demeanour with the children, whereas Tubridy wisecracks and joins in the fun. And then of course there was Gay Byrne the twinkly-eyed storyteller who was a clear favourite among all.
In my opinion, no RTE toy show presenter has ever matched the charm and style of Gay Byrne. Maybe it was his white hair, or his clipped way of speaking, or his habit of making all guests, young and old feel welcome but he set the scene at the toy show. Maybe it was that he reminded the children on the show of a friendly grandfather figure, laughing at their jokes, playing with their toys, bemusedly marvelling at the latest gizmo or gadget and indulging their quirky stories. Whatever it was he worked his spell on The Late Late Toy Show just perfectly, he has always been a hard act to follow.
This year Ryan Tubridy has declared that he will not be wearing the customary Christmas jumper, hearts sank around the country. Just when Christmas jumpers were finally fashionable, Tubridy decides to take them off the air. I’m hopeful that this is merely a rumour. For his show in 2010 he debated widely with the public on Twitter whether he should wear a jumper or not. This week to RTE he stated that although he will be wearing a jumper, it will be grotesque which is rather puzzling.
The Billie Barrie Kids were an integral part of earlier Late Late Toy Show experiences, now having given way to various different stage schools and performance acts that appear each year. Children’s choirs with beautiful young voices get exhibited, child performers and solo acts are always displayed. Last year Jedward were even allowed on stage, rocking and rolling and running rings around Ryan Tubridy. The children themselves on the show become celebrities just look at John-Joe Brennan, the little boy who wanted to make clocks and became an internet sensation overnight.
One of the best parts of The Late Late Toy Show is the segment where they exhibit the toy cars, tractors and bicycles and usually have very young children to showcase them. You’re always guaranteed at least one child will crash. There’ll be the zoomer, who flies past the screen so fast that Mammy doesn’t have time to get the camera. Then there’s the kid who causes a traffic jam. There’s also the child who drives his/her vehicle the wrong way and eventually Ryan, Pat or Gay sorts them out a crisis is averted and the show can go on.
Controversial turkey, Dustin makes an appearance as often as he can. Christmas is quite a stressful time for Dustin as he must avoid being eaten yet he is one of the most popular parts of the show. There are rumours every year around whether or not Dustin will be on the show as he doesn’t always show his face. Some years Dustin is busy helping Santa Claus or rescuing Socky the Sock Monster or has been banned from the show. The feud between Dustin and Pat Kenny has always been well publicised, and Gay Byrne often rolled his eyes and expressly claimed that he had been “promised that Dustin would not be on the show” when the mouthy turkey showed up. Dustin’s hit Christmas tracks include “Just another Christmas Tree” and “Christmas in Dublin”. His latest offering was a performance in the Eurovision representing Ireland.
Now that we’ve all gotten a little older, some of the charm of The Late Late Toy Show may have worn off. We’re not as young as we used to be after all and no longer are we going to be delighted by a train that lights up when it passes through a tunnel, Power Rangers’ latest offering or in Barbie dolls and teddies that talk. Granted, we may still be interested in the Nintendo Wii and the more flashier and sophisticated toys. But for those of us that are still going to tune in will be rest assured to maximise our enjoyment of this night.
For those who want to enjoy the show in a more grown up way the kind folks at Pass Me A Mineral have set up a drinking game for The Late Late Toy Show.
Note: This year fans of The Late Late Toy Show are being warned that there is a text scam going around claiming to have tickets. RTE have warned Irish audiences however that there are no tickets remaining for this week’s show and any message received should not be taken seriously.