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The Late Late Toy Show

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Title: The Late Late Toy Show  
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Subject: Gay Byrne, Ryan Tubridy, List of programmes broadcast by RTÉ, Podge and Rodge, Gerry Ryan, 1976 in Irish television, Sheriff Woody, Luan Parle, Christmas in Ireland, The Cafe (chat show)
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The Late Late Toy Show

The Late Late Toy Show
The logo as of 2009.
Genre Talk show/Children
Presented by Various
(currently Ryan Tubridy)
Country of origin Ireland
Original language(s) English
Location(s) RTÉ Studio 4,
Dublin 4,
Original channel RTÉ One
Original run November 1975 – present
Related shows The Late Late Show

The Late Late Toy Show—also known as The Toy Show[1] is an annual iconic[2] and influential Irish national institution,[3] an edition of the world's longest-running[4][5][6][7][8] chat show, The Late Late Show broadcast on RTÉ One in Ireland each Friday evening. The Toy Show, as it is referred to, is broadcast in late November or early December each year. It has been an annual event since at least the 1970s.[1] The show is regularly the most watched programme of the year on Irish television, with viewership figures rising steadily in recent years. The show, which consists of an adult-only studio audience[9] dressed in traditional Christmas attire, does not accept advertisements which promote toys for its commercial breaks but, whilst new gadget-type toys regularly break down during the live show, being featured on the programme itself has been said to have a major boost to sales of a product over the following number of weeks in the build-up to the Christmas period.[10]

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, makes an annual appearance, usually bringing a gift for the presenter. These gifts when produced tend 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. 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.[11] Advertising in 2009 cost €17,000 for each 30 second slot—this compares to €9,750 for the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final.[12]

The 2008 edition was broadcast on RTÉ One on 28 November 2008 at 21:35, with the 2009 edition occurring on 27 November 2009 at 21:35. The 2010 edition occurred on 26 November 2010, with the 2011 edition occurring on 2 December 2011.


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.[13] Gay Byrne habitually wore a Christmas jumper each year, but Pat Kenny tended to wear a "naff" grey jumper when he was host.[14] Ryan Tubridy also spoke in favour of the jumper when he took the helm.[15] Byrne was noted for his "Bing Crosby sweater".[16]

Some of the sweaters we got in this year are so bad, the people who knitted them should be put on trial in The Hague for crimes against Christmas.[13]
Ryan Tubridy expressed his distaste for the selection of jumpers he received from fans in 2011.


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.[17]

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.[18]

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"—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.[19]

Recent history

2005 edition

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.[20]

2006 edition

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.[21] 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".[22]

2007 edition

2007 guests
James Blunt
Jerry Seinfeld
Dustin the Turkey
Róisín Seoighe

The 2007 Toy Show was broadcast on 30 November 2007, attracting over one million viewers[23] or seven tenths of the available audience, making it the most watched television programme in Ireland at that time of 2007.[24] 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.[25] 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.

2008 edition

2008 guests
Nicky Byrne (with Rocco and Jay)
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York
Jeremy Clarkson,
Richard Hammond,
James May[27]

The 2008 Toy Show aired on 28 November 2008 and was Pat Kenny's tenth Toy Show.[28] 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.[29]

The highlight was the opening, which first shows Pat Kenny standing on a railing outside the RTE studios in Donnybrook putting an extra light bulb on to the lights. A boy named Anthony Malone from Tullamore,then switches on the lights which goes all over the country, the boy then picks up a present and passes it to the other kids in a pass the parcel like fashion, while a little girl sings a rendition of Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You. The show then proceeds to the main studio where kids dressed as elves and Santa's sing the song and pass the parcel to the audience who pass it on to Kenny who is standing at the top of the audience.

A show on RTE 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.[30] 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".[31] 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.[32] Within minutes footage was uploaded onto the video hosting website YouTube, with spoofs of the incident also created.[33][34] and Heavey was congratulated in numerous national newspapers.[35]

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.[36] 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.[37] 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".[38]

2009 edition

2009 guests
Evanna Lynch[41]

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.[15] He wore a maroon jumper on the night.[1] Tubridy's daughter Ella attended the show.[42] The 2009 theme was The Wizard of Oz, with a yellow brick road being especially constructed for the occasion.[1]

Elles Divas, three schoolgirls from County Offaly, performed "Don't Stop Me Now" during the first part of the show.[43] 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".[1]

Jedward, wearing glistening bronze suits on their first appearance on Irish television,[44][45] caused controversy when John swore live on air after tearing his trousers whilst performing a sequence of acrobatic movements around the set.[46] He used the words, "Oh shit. I ripped my pants".[46] Ten security guards were required to take care of the twins, who rose to fame on UK talent show The X Factor.[46] Thousands of females fans surrounded RTÉ's studios to catch a glimpse of the pair who spent time in the audience live on air.[44] Tubridy was later criticised by their manager Louis Walsh for giving them a "hard time".[47]

The programme attracted an average audience of 1.38 million viewers.[48] 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.[49] The jumper raised €1,050.[50] This year's ad featured Tubridy going into a tailor store run by two children, who offer him different sweaters. Tubridy refuses each one until they offer him a jacket which he gladly accepts unaware that the kids have plugged in a neon sign at the back.

2010 edition

2010 guests
Joe McElderry[52]

Host Ryan Tubridy caused controversy after suggesting via Twitter that he may not wear the traditional jumper.[53] 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.[54] The same ad used in the previous year's edition returned this time with Ryan accepting a sweater from the two kids (who return for this ad). However the kids put on 3D Glasses showing a 3D effect that they can see so when Ryan asks why they are wearing them they substitute it with the fact that they are going to a 3D movie.

2011 edition

2011 guests
Olly Murs[55]

Following on from the previous year's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme, 2011 had a Toy Story theme.[55][56][57][58]

It was broadcast on 2 December 2011. The jumper worn by Ryan Tubridy was donated to the fund for artist Alexandra Trotsenko on Liveline.[55] Tubridy entered the show disguised as pull-string cowboy Woody.[13][59][60]

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.[61][62] 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.[63] 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".

2012 edition

2012 guests
Union J

The 2012 edition, with a Shrek theme (though a trailer airing all week in advance falsely implied an Indiana Jones theme), took place on 30 November.[64] It was host Ryan Tubridy's fourth Toy Show.[65] 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"][66] There was also a scam involving fake tickets.[67][68] The children appearing included eight Irish dancers known as Damhsa Juniors and two kids from Naas performing English pop singer's Jessie J's song "Price Tag", with a group singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" as the show finale.[69][70] 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.[71] The highlight moment of the show happened when young Alex Meehan on a peddle powered tractor came out before spontaneously speaking Irish to Ryan Tubridy. When Tubridy responded by asking him "any craic" Alex answered "Níl" before peddling off the stage.[72][73]


External links

  • Official site
  • Young Wexford Singers and Rowe Street Juior Choir singing Winter Wonderlad 2007 Directed by Eanna McKenna
  • Video
  • (at around 3/4 minutes). RTÉ Radio 1. 24 November 2008.
  • Top Five Toy Show Moments
  • RTE Archive clip from the 1981 Toy Show
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