It's the biggest Toy Show ever - and 'Gay started all of this'
Tubridy will be thinking of Gaybo as TV audiences tune in tonight
RTÉ's Ryan Tubridy paid tribute to Gay Byrne amid his battle with prostate cancer, saying his thoughts will be with the man who started it all on tonight's 'Late Late Toy Show'.
The veteran presenter (82) recently revealed he's undergoing tests after doctors feared the cancer may have spread to his back.
An inside source said the Lyric FM presenter was now convalescing at home in Ballsbridge, with no definite date set for when he'll return to his Sunday radio programme.
Speaking of the popular presenter, who fronted the show for 37 years, Tubridy said he had been in contact with him recently and the stalwart of the broadcasting world seemed in good spirits.
"I have not spoken to him by voice but we've been in touch and he seems to be doing OK and we're keeping a very close eye on him because he's an extraordinary person and he started all of this," he said.
"But I think the form is good and we are thinking about him enormously, as an organisation but also from me as a friend."
Meanwhile, the 'Jungle Book' will form the theme for this year's Toy Show special, with Tubridy hoping to replicate last year's bumper audience figures of 1.5m viewers.
He has drafted in 320 little co-stars for this evening's programme, which will see the presenter taking centre stage himself as he sings and dances for the opening number. It is the biggest cast to ever take part in the festive programme.
"It's big, it's brassy, it's sassy, it's the most colourful of all the openings since I remember," Tubridy said, as he unveiled this year's set.
"It's magnificent. I think the set is the most spectacular, from what I can recall.
"When we started this eight years ago it was a bit low-key but it's just getting bigger and bigger every year now.
"It's out-of-control, in a good Skittle-fuelled way."
Given that it heralds the start of the Christmas season, he admitted that he still gets nervous before the show goes live, even after all these years as a presenter.
"When you get over 1.5m people watching, it can be daunting even if you are a big show-off," he said.
"I pretend it's not happening and I'm just in this crazy room with kids doing daft things.
"I don't pay too much attention, I feel sorry for the people I work with. They tell me not to do this and that so I take note and then do exactly the opposite."
Contrary to the popular showbiz adage of never working with children or animals, he said he relished it when things went slightly askew.
"I love when the toys are broken because that's real. It happens a lot on Christmas morning," he said.
"Sometimes Santa gets it wrong and the elves make the wrong toys. I love when it goes a bit weird."
He also said it was a hard job coming up with the all-important theme.
"There was another idea for this that just wasn't taking and then the 'Jungle Book' came about from that.
"It's a fun job to come up with the ideas for the toy show theme because you immediately have to think about what you're going to do with the show and the opening number," he said.
He also insisted that programmes catered towards children were still an important part of RTÉ's values, amid controversy over the mooted outsourcing of RTÉ's Young People's Programming.
"They're important. I don't know if I'd class this as a children's programme - it's an institution that's been going on for years - but I think it's really important," he said.
RTÉ was forced to suspend the proposed outsourcing after management admitted breaching an agreement to consult with the broadcaster's unions on "significant issues".