The Late Late Toy Show
|The Late Late Toy Show|
The logo as of 2009.
|Presented by||Ryan Tubridy (2009 – present)|
|Country of origin||Ireland|
|Location(s)||RTÉ Studio 4,
|Original channel||RTÉ One|
|Original run||November 1975 – present|
|Related shows||The Late Late Show|
The Late Late Toy Show is an annual, special edition of the Irish late-night chat show The Late Late Show. Airing annually on RTÉ One near the end of November or early-December, the Toy Show prominently features the popular toys of the year that are showcased before the oncoming Holiday season as presented by the host and demonstrated by various children on-stage, along with appearances by celebrity guests. Since its first presentation in 1975, the Toy Show has become a cultural institution in Ireland; it is often the most-watched program of the year on Irish television (and its overall viewership has increased steadily in recent years), and being featured on the Toy Show has been said to have a major boost to sales of a product heading into the Christmas season. Commercial time during the Toy Show is also prestigious for advertisers; in 2009, a 30-second spot cost €17,000; in comparison, a 30-second spot during the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final cost €9,750. Tickets to its taping are also difficult to come by; in one year, a single ticket was auctioned for €1,500.
Most recently presented by Ryan Tubridy, the show has previously been presented by Gay Byrne and Pat Kenny during their tenures at the helm. Dustin the Turkey, a high-profile entertainment figure in Ireland, made an annual appearance, usually bringing a gift for the presenter. These gifts when produced tended to have a comedy effect and in the past have included a miniature antique chair and a Pat Kenny clock, ominously presented to Kenny's predecessor Gay Byrne. Dustin has not made an appearance on the show since 2007. The Toy Show, along with the Tribute Shows, tends to be one of the few editions of The Late Late Show to require advance preparation before the week of broadcast.
The Toy Show jumper attracts as much attention as the show itself, with viewers sending in their own versions to RTÉ ahead of the night in the hope that the presenter might wear them. Gay Byrne habitually wore a Christmas jumper each year, but Pat Kenny tended to wear a "naff" grey jumper when he was host. Ryan Tubridy also spoke in favour of the jumper when he took the helm. Byrne was noted for his "Bing Crosby sweater".
Ryan Tubridy expressed his distaste for the selection of jumpers he received from fans in 2011.
Audience members also appear in Christmas wear such as hats, antlers and even jumpers.
In 1994, it was broadcast on 9 December and attracted an audience so high that it did not come close again until the 2010 edition.
In 1997, Dustin presented Gay Byrne with a miniature antique chair during the veteran presenter's second-last Toy Show. The stunt alluded to a controversy that occurred when the winner of an antiques restoration competition run by the show claimed credit for a chair which had been worked on by another person.
Among the show's other memorable moments over the years are Junior Culchie of the Year Mark McSharry from County Cavan in his mini-motorised toy tractor, the little girl who said she did not like Justin Bieber "'cus he's so full of himself", Pat Kenny mispronouncing Jerry "Seinfield"'s name before presenting him with his very own cheap Superman toy, and - what is considered "the ultimate Toy Show moment" by many and "possibly the ultimate moment of all time", voted the number 1 moment in an RTÉ Player poll in 2014 -little John Joe Brennan's dissection of the collected works of Roald Dahl—"I find him very poetic" and "for children fantasy always comes first." And his ambition to be a horologist.
The 2005 Toy Show was broadcast on 2 December 2005, attracting 1.1 million viewers as the most watched programme on Irish television that year. It was also the most watched edition of The Late Late Show since Gay Byrne's final show in 1999. Irish comedian Dave McSavage, appeared in the opening ceremony for this Toy Show, playing a selfish scrooge.
The 2006 Toy Show was broadcast on 1 December 2006. Six-year-old Millie (Philomena) Murray, who, along with her four-year-old brother Gavin Murray, had recently been burned out of her car in Limerick, left her hospital bed to make an appearance. She requested a doll to play with for the show. Her brother was too unwell to feature on the show after the incident that led to over twelve weeks of hospital treatment for the pair. Pat Kenny was later criticised in a study by the Equality Authority for his hosting of the show, in which he persistently reinforced stereotypes of gender roles. An example was a human skull shown to ooze slime, of which the presenter uttered the comment "made for boys, I think".
|Dustin the Turkey|
The 2007 Toy Show was broadcast on 30 November 2007, attracting over one million viewers or seven tenths of the available audience, making it the most watched television programme in Ireland at that time of 2007. Broadcast over the traditional four parts, it contained a performance from James Blunt, the annual appearance of Dustin, book reviews and Miriam O'Shea who performed a rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". The 2007 Toy Show also played host to an interview with comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Kenny expressed a lack of knowledge about his subject from the very beginning when he introduced him as "Jerry Seinfield". There was much uncomfortable chat on the topic of bees (Seinfeld was on the show to promote his new movie, Bee Movie) and Kenny then presented him with a cheap imitation of his favourite superhero, Superman. Seinfeld, who had previously lashed out at Larry King over his ignorance, remained tight-lipped and walked off without informing Kenny of his correct name. The 2007 Toy Show was opened by the soprano Oisín Nolan who ascended a hanging crescent moon as Kenny entered the studio fresh from his visit to Santa in Lapland. Roisin Seoighe (7) Conemara performed Sean Nos dancing wearing her trademark red dance shoes along with music played by the Castlemahon Buskers. She danced a reel and got a fantastic applause from the audience. The Castle Mahon Buskers came from Newcastle West, County Limerick, and have four members. Two bodhrán players performed, an accordion player and a spoons player. The show was closed by The Young Wexford Singers and Rowe Street Junior Choir. This was so far Dustin's last appearance on the Toy Show.
|Nicky Byrne (with Rocco and Jay)|
|Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York|
The 2008 Toy Show aired on 28 November 2008 and was Pat Kenny's tenth and final Toy Show. It achieved a total audience of 1,199,000 to become the most viewed television programme across all channels available in Ireland since 2001. It was the fourth consecutive year that the show cleared the one million viewers mark, with 275,000 of those watching being children and almost 800,000 watchers being adults.
The highlight was the opening, which first showed Kenny standing on a railing outside the RTÉ studios in Donnybrook putting an extra light bulb on to the lights. A boy named Anthony Malone from Tullamore,then switched on the lights which went all over the country, the boy then picked up a present and passed it to the other kids in a pass the parcel like fashion, while a little girl sang a rendition of Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You. The show then proceeded to the main studio where kids dressed as elves and Santa's sang the song and passed the parcel to the audience who passed it on to Kenny who was standing at the top of the audience before the piece ended and he welcomed the audience.
Afterwards Dustin's absence from the Toy Show was noted when Kenny opened the parcel and said with a sigh of relief: "Thank goodness it's not Dustin!". It was an Elmo toy.
A show on RTÉ Two called Ice had snuck a Teddy Bear into the set which was spotted on camera during a performance on the show.
The programme proved controversial, with controversy beginning to generate one week before broadcast, when the current value of tickets was questioned. When a competition winner refused two tickets to the show as her prize at the end of the 21 November edition of The Late Late Show, visibly infuriated presenter Pat Kenny tore them up live on air. Kenny questioned why she had entered the competition if she had not wanted to attend the Toy Show (the tickets were just part of the prize; also on offer was €10,000). In the aftermath, the winner, identified as Barbara Heavey from Cork, explained to a newspaper that she had entered the competition "out of boredom", had "no interest in watching children play with toys for two hours" and had no children of her own. She did not see the actual tearing of the tickets as she had turned off the television "to prevent an echo on the line" and attempted to suggest that they either be raffled or donated to someone else only to be drowned out by Kenny and his audience's vocal disbelief. Despite numerous attempts by RTÉ to have her attend, she said she would be "bored stiff", wasn't interested in toys and, if she had to attend the show, would probably "set off the smoke alarms by chain-smoking in the toilets". Kenny did not let the matter rest however, opening his morning radio show the following Monday with a five minute chat to his listeners in which he implied that the torn-up tickets were of more value than All Ireland final and Munster v. All Blacks tickets. Within minutes footage was uploaded onto the video hosting website YouTube, with spoofs of the incident also created. and Heavey was congratulated in numerous national newspapers.
Two and a half hours before the 2008 Toy Show got underway Kenny appeared on Aidan Power's The Cafe with alter-ego Oliver Callan. (19:00). Kenny revealed McFly would perform, the only guest he was willing to reveal to Power. Power then mimicked the torn ticket incident by teasing Kenny with two tickets before plucking them from his grasp and tearing them into pieces, after which Kenny engaged in some turkey dialogue with the rest of The Cafe. In an announcement aired before the Nine O'Clock News, Kenny let slip that Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May from BBC's Top Gear would appear. During the show, Kenny once again referenced the ticket fiasco when, whilst promoting another competition with a prize of a car and €10,000, he said he would "tear up" the vehicle if the winner refused to take it. Nicky Byrne of Westlife appeared with his twins Rocco and Jay and met 10-year-old Shauna Byrne, a fan of his who was battling cystic fibrosis at the time but later died on 30 January 2009. Sarah Ferguson was present for the annual children's book section, where she listened to some of the children speak the Irish language. McFly, in their second Toy Show appearance, performed "Do Ya" from their Radioactive album. The closing act was RTÉ Cór na nÓg, singing "Jingle Bells".
The 2009 Toy Show aired on 27 November 2009 and was Ryan Tubridy's first Toy Show. The presenter suggested prior to the show that there was uncertainty over whether he would wear the jumper traditionally worn each year. He wore a maroon jumper on the night. Tubridy's daughter Ella attended the show. The 2009 theme was The Wizard of Oz, with a yellow brick road being especially constructed for the occasion.
Elles Divas, three schoolgirls from County Offaly, performed "Don't Stop Me Now" during the first part of the show. At one point Tubridy was asked to attempt to moonwalk by two children, responding in a joking manner: "You didn't do this in rehearsals, lads".
Jedward, wearing glistening bronze suits on their first appearance on Irish television, caused controversy when John swore live on air after tearing his trousers whilst performing a sequence of acrobatic movements around the set. He used the words, "Oh shit. I ripped my pants". Ten security guards were required to take care of the twins, who rose to fame on UK talent show The X Factor. Thousands of females fans surrounded RTÉ's studios to catch a glimpse of the pair who spent time in the audience live on air. Tubridy was later criticised by their manager Louis Walsh for giving them a "hard time".
The programme attracted an average audience of 1.38 million viewers. The jumper worn by Tubridy on his debut as host of The Late Late Toy Show was later auctioned for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake on the radio programme Mooney. The jumper raised €1,050. That year's ad featured Tubridy going into a tailor store run by two children, who offered him different sweaters. Tubridy refused each one until they offered him a jacket which he gladly accepted unaware that the kids had plugged in a neon sign at the back.
Host Ryan Tubridy caused controversy after suggesting via Twitter that he may not wear the traditional jumper. Tubridy made history when he became the first 'Late Late' host to sing on the show. He opened a song from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in the opening piece of the show. The 2010 Toy Show attracted an average of 1.4 million viewers, the highest audience in 16 years. Speaking about the show, presenter Tubridy said "At the end of a very difficult week in Ireland, I think the country needed a smile, a laugh and a big hug and I think that's what we did on Friday." The show also attracted 46,500 streams on RTÉ Player, up almost 120% on the figures achieved for the 2009 show. The same commercial used in the previous year's edition returned this time with Ryan accepting a sweater from the two kids (who returned for this commercial). However the kids put on 3D glasses showing a 3D effect that they could see so when Ryan asked why they are wearing them, they substituted it with the fact that they were going to a 3D movie. This edition also marked the debut of the band The Strypes who were aged between 12-14 at the time.
It was broadcast on 2 December 2011. The jumper worn by Ryan Tubridy was donated to the fund for artist Alexandra Trotsenko on Liveline. Tubridy entered the show disguised as pull-string cowboy Woody, alongside Toy Show performer Evan O'Hanlon, who stars in Moone Boy,as Buzz Lightyear.
The Late Late Toy Show was the most watched show in 17 years and of 2011, with the following Enda Kenny's Address to the nation in second place and the Eurovision Song Contest in third place. Tubridy later admitted that he had to apologise to a lady in the audience whom he had hit with a soiled nappy tossed carelessly aside during one of the toy demonstrations. Performer on the Toy Show, Ashley Tubridy, later appeared on the Late Late Show in January 2012, performing a new edition to her song "Friends Forever".
The 2012 edition, with a Shrek theme (though a TV commercial airing all week in advance falsely implied an Indiana Jones theme), took place on 30 November. It was host Ryan Tubridy's fourth Toy Show. As showtime approached there was much talk of "reasonably priced toys" and the host's choice of jumper—"There won't be any penguins or snowmen or figures on the jumper. I would describe this sweater as gruesome, nasty and grotesque, but only from a sartorial point of view." [Tubridy "joke"] There was also a scam involving fake tickets. The children appearing included eight Irish dancers known as Damhsa Juniors and two kids from Naas performing English pop singer's Labrinth's song "Express Yourself", with a group singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" as the show finale. Other features to look forward to included a special appearance by The X Factor finalists Union J, Aston and Kayleigh from RTÉ documentary Apartment Kids championing toys for small spaces, a remote-controlled James Bond car and a PlayStation game written by J. K. Rowling. The highlight moment of the show happened when young Alex Meehan on a pedal powered tractor came out before spontaneously speaking Irish to Ryan Tubridy. When Tubridy responded by asking him "any craic" Alex answered "Níl" before pedalling off the stage.
The 2013 edition took place on 29 November. The show was streamed on rte.ie live worldwide, anyone anywhere in the world could watch the show as it was not geo-blocked. 40,000 applications for tickets were received with only around 200 available. The show had a Mary Poppins theme, with Ryan Tubridy opening the show dressed as chimney sweep Bert and then tore off the costume to reveal his Christmas jumper. The 2013 toy show featured a record breaking 237 toys. Over 231 performers and demonstrators took to the stage, with 34 of them performing a special opening number from Mary Poppins. The opening song on the show was Chim Chim Cher-ee and featured Ryan Tubridy dancing. In advance, a week before the show, Tubridy received a letter from a young boy from County Cavan named Fergal Smith, who begged to co-host the show with him. Tubridy at first rejected the letter but that same week, he changed his mind and called him live on air and agreed to let him host. Fergal later appeared on the show wearing a similar jumper and also helped Tubridy to introduce youngters who demonstrated ride on toys. A rival version of the toy show was shown on TV3 on the same day at the earlier times of 10.00am and 8:00pm called Showpal Christmas Toys, the 30-minute programme was presented by Alan Hughes. Robbie Keane was a guest on the show when he surprised a young fan whilst he was playing a game of FIFA 14. Bosco also made an appearance on the show.  Domhnall, the young Irish football fan who met Robbie Keane later appeared on the Late Late Show, a week later where he got the surprise of being a mascot for the team for their international friendly against Serbia in March 2014. The 2013 show was the most-watched programme on RTÉ in 2013 and had the highest number of viewers in 10 years. It was watched by 1,547,000 viewers. A Trailer for the movie Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, was shown on YouTube featuring the movie's main character, fictional anchorman Ron Burgundy, doing a report about the show.
The 2014 Toy Show took place on 28 November 2014. It was Ryan Tubridy's 6th show. On the 31 October Episode, Tubridy launched a campaign for people across the country to knit him a Christmas jumper to wear on the 2014 Toy Show. He wore four jumpers at different stages during the show. 120,000 people applied for audience tickets for the show with only 200 tickets being made available. For the 2nd year running, TV3 showed a rival version of the toy show. This time called the Christmas Toy Show and shown a week before the actual Toy Show to avoid clashing with it. The show was streamed live worldwide on the RTE Player, where anyone anywhere in the world could watch the show as it was not geo-blocked. The show had a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang theme. The show featured a record number of children, 269 performers and toy testers. 200 toys were featured and more than 300 were used for the set design.  Ed Sheeran was a surprise guest on the show surprising a young girl who sang a song by him on "Singstar". Also included was Danny O'Donoghue from The Script. Each part opened with a musical or comedy performance. The 2014 show was RTE's highest rated programme of 2014, with average ratings of 1,357,400 viewers.
Aside from the host's Christmas jumper, the Toy Show has a number of (mostly unwritten) traditions, including:
- Performances from the Billie Barry Kids
- Dustin the Turkey making an appearance, and invariably insulting the host
- The host soaking members of the audience with a water pistol
- At the end of explaining certain products, the host may announce "there's one for everybody in the audience!" — provided by various sponsors. The number and value of these gifts has become more substantial in recent years.
- Toddlers are invited to come into the studio earlier in the day and play with the toys; this is recorded and edited before extracts are played back in the show itself
- Reviews and demonstrations of products by older children
- The host wearing Christmas jumpers during the show.
- As of 2012, the performers perform a finale music number to close the show.
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This year’s live audience figures for the ‘Late Late Toy Show’ are the highest in 16 years – almost matching those of from December 9th, 1994 when the show attracted an average audience of 1,409,000 viewers.
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RTÉ faces have contributed personal items to an eBay auction and there was frenzied bidding for the now legendary “big freeze” hat worn by RTÉ environment correspondent Paul Cunningham (above) – going on to raise €570, and Ryan Tubridy’s Late Late Toy Show jumper earned a whopping €1,050.
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- Official site
- Young Wexford Singers and Rowe Street Juior Choir singing Winter Wonderlad 2007 Directed by Eanna McKenna
- Behind the scenes at the 2008 Toy Show Video
- Pat Kenny's chat about tickets for the 2008 show on Today with Pat Kenny (at around 3/4 minutes). RTÉ Radio 1. 24 November 2008.
- Top Five Toy Show Moments
- RTE Archive clip from the 1981 Toy Show
- The Irish Times: Why the Late Late doesn't toy with the toy show