Thursday 22 August 2019

The 16 most memorable moments from Late Late Toy Shows of Christmases past

It's that time of year again...

Mia Farrell from Bluebell in Dublin demonstrating toys with presenter Ryan Tubridy. Picture Andres Poveda / RTE
Mia Farrell from Bluebell in Dublin demonstrating toys with presenter Ryan Tubridy. Picture Andres Poveda / RTE
The Burke family from Midleton Cork - Sergeant Graham Burke, mum Marie and their three kids - Adam 8, Kayla 6 and 4-year-old Emily. Picture Andres Poveda / RTE.
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

The festive season does not officially kick off until Ryan Tubridy dons a Christmas jumper and throws a few shapes on the Late Late Toy Show.

It’s the biggest TV show of the year in Ireland – last year it drew an average audience of 1.35m and a 70 per cent share of the audience on the night – and has become a tradition for families across the country, and beyond, after 40 years on the air.

From the opening sequence to the toy testing, which sometimes goes wrong, to the performances, and surprises, it brings a little magic, escapism and excitement into our lives at a time when we need it most.

Here’s a little look back at some of the most memorable moments from Toy Shows of Christmases past...

Those opening sequences

Those first couple of minutes are the most joyous of the show and set the bar for what’s to come. Last year’s Little Mermaid themed intro with Ryan dressed as lobster Sebastian and performing with children from the Spotlight Stage School, Spraoi and dance troupe Nasty Kidz was something special.

And 2016 deserves a mention too. The theme was the Jungle Book. Ryan was Baloo. The kids were, as always, utterly adorable. 


Sergeant Graham Burke is reunited with his family

There wasn't a dry eye in the house last year when three young children - Adam (8), Kayla (6), and Emily (4) - were reunited with their soldier father on the Late Late Toy Show after six months apart.

Sergeant Graham Burke, from Midleton in Cork, made his family's dreams come true by returning home from a training mission in Mali, just in time for the festive season. The children had no idea he was there and he surprised them by jumping out of a big box.

As they - along with mum Marie - all embraced there was not a dry eye across the nation.

Graham, who is originally from Dublin, said: "I'm shaking, it's amazing to see them, it's just unreal."


The Holy Family Junior Deaf Choir

True Colours performed by Holy Family Junior Deaf Choir (based in Cabra, Dublin) was one of the musical highlights of last year's show. Beautiful, and very, very moving.  Also performing were Barry Murphy from Dundalk, Alisha Weir from Knocklyon in Dublin, and Eimhear Greene (harp player) from Kilkee Co Clare.


Mia's surprise

Little Mia, from Bluebell in Dublin, told Ryan she was currently living with her auntie, her cousin, her nanny, her granda, her mother and her mother in a very busy house. She told Ryan it was because, "I think my ma can't get a house." Ryan surprised Mia with a trip for her entire family to Legoland in Florida. Her face said it all.


The moment Ryan dragged Tadhg across the floor

Apologies if you're a blubbering mess on the floor at this point. Here's a little light relief. Last year Tadhg and Ryan were stretching a Batman toy together and Ryan somehow ended up dragging Tadhg across the floor. Tadhg didn’t seem to perturbed by his ordeal, but the audience at home was a little concerned.

tadhg 2.JPG
Tadhg being dragged across the floor by Ryan

Don't worry, he was grand:


Ed Sheeran surprises superfan Aimee Keogh

Back in 2014 the Toy Show had a very special guest in the form of one Ed Sheeran, who surprised Aimee Keogh as she was singing along to his hit Lego House on SingStar. "I'm hysterical!" she declared when Ed asked her to sing alongside him. 


Domhnall meets his hero Robbie Keane

In 2013 Domhnall had the most adorable reaction to meeting his hero. He's initially a little reticent, probably from shock, but then he gives Ryan a run for his money in the interview stakes.


Never meet your idols - Toby meets Girls Aloud

Toby is probably in his twenties now, but back in 2003 he was just an adorable wee nipper with a love for Girls Aloud. He sang their hit 'Jump' for the audience but when the girls themselves appeared in studio he looked like he got the fright of his life. When then-host Pat Kenny asked him if he wanted to talk to them he said, 'No'.


Homegrown celebs are just as awesome

You don't need global superstars to impress kids. Sometimes Evelyn Cusack or Dermot Bannon will do...

Evelyn Cusack and weather fan Johnny (2015)

Anna meets Dermot Bannon (2016)


The unscripted moments

The unscripted moments with the kids are the most wonderful whether it's the little guy in the white t-shirt giving it socks during the Irish dancing sequence or little Lila noticing herself on camera.



The characters

We love Ryan, we do. But it's the kids that make the Toy Show and there are some kids we'll always remember like Douglas, an aspiring fashion designer, who told Ryan, "You're certainly nailing the Christmas look, I have to say!" or John Joe Brennan who wanted to be a horologist and told Ryan his watch was "a very good mark, next to Rolex".

John Joe, who reviewed Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach on the show back in 2009, lives in Paris now with his parents, and still has a love of clocks.


When things don't quite go to plan

It's live TV, there's a gaggle of kids, an audience of excitable adults, tonnes of hefty props and toys that seem to suffer from performance anxiety - it's primed for disaster. Thankfully the disasters are usually on the smaller scale. Or just a fleeting moment like Danny 'The Script' O'Donoghue's failed fist bump.


It's Ryan Tubridy's tenth year at the helm of the Late Late Toy Show and to mark that momentous occasion there's a special programme airing tonight with archive footage of the highlights of the past ten years.  The Late Late Toy Show Unwrapped airs in three parts over tonight, Thursday, and Friday on RTE One at 7pm.

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