PRESENTER Ryan Tubridy will get the nation into the festive spirit with another 'Late Late Toy Show' tonight.
The 39-year-old believes the annual special is needed more than ever this year.
"The country is grim, unhappy and sad and we are the rainbow," he said. "We provide an opportunity for people who are in trouble to forget about it for two or three hours.
"That suits me because I enjoy being that rainbow, that splash of colour." Tonight's show features a fairytale set based on the film ' Shrek' and a special appearance by 'X Factor' finalists Union J. The Christmas jumper Tubridy will wear remains a secret, but it has been described as "a sartorial weapon of mass destruction".
The host does not expect tonight's show to scale the heights of last year's, which attracted 1,414,000 viewers, making it the most-watched programme on Irish TV since the 1994 World Cup.
"I think the numbers will be down because they were so high last time," said Tubridy. "We can't top last year's figures, but we still expect a huge number of people to tune in." Expect some old favourites to make a comeback, including Cabbage Patch Kids. There will also be a remote-controlled James Bond car and a PlayStation game written by JK Rowling.
The show will feature a record number of children from around the country, with more than 200 performers and demonstrators including 'Aston' and 'Kayleigh' from RTE documentary 'Apartment Kids' championing toys for small spaces.
RTE were forced to issue a warning this week about a scam offering audience tickets. "There are only 200 real ones and they're all gone," said Tubridy.
"They're like the golden tickets in Willy Wonka."
it's a national institution - Helen Moorehouse, Page 29