Tuesday 11 December 2018

Roll up, roll up: Ryan plays ringmaster for his 10th 'Toy Show'

200 performers to appear with 30 toy testers

Christmas spirit: Main, Ryan Tubridy with Tattoo Man Dylan O’Connor (11) from Dublin, Napoleon Luke O’Connor (7) from Dublin, Three-legged Man Kayla McMahon (10) from Balrothery, Pierrot Clown Enya Allen (5) from Navan, Fatman Matthew Little (12) from Ardee, Bearded Lady Alannah Willoughby (12) from Carlow, Wolfman Colm Sullivan (8) from Navan and Albino Ella Maher (10) from Carlow. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Christmas spirit: Main, Ryan Tubridy with Tattoo Man Dylan O’Connor (11) from Dublin, Napoleon Luke O’Connor (7) from Dublin, Three-legged Man Kayla McMahon (10) from Balrothery, Pierrot Clown Enya Allen (5) from Navan, Fatman Matthew Little (12) from Ardee, Bearded Lady Alannah Willoughby (12) from Carlow, Wolfman Colm Sullivan (8) from Navan and Albino Ella Maher (10) from Carlow. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

By 9.35pm tonight, the Christmas countdown will have officially begun.

There'll be the Bearded Lady, the Tattooed Man and, of course, the ringmaster himself - Ryan Tubridy.

Yes, this year's 'Late Late Toy Show' will be one like no other, as RTÉ is transformed into the set of 'The Greatest Showman' for the annual toy extravaganza.

Ryan has been hinting for weeks that he has been nervously fine-tuning his vocals for the night and has finally revealed he will take on the role of circus star PT Barnum, made so famous by Hugh Jackman earlier this year.

Now he is hoping the rehearsals have paid off for tonight's opening number.

"The song I am going to be singing is enormous and belongs to the biggest film of the year. It's a total departure for us, I was a crab last year, depending on your nautical tastes, and the year before I was a bear as Baloo," he said.

"I went to see that film some time ago with my daughter and I said, 'It looks awful' and she said, 'No, can we give it one go?'

"From the moment it started with that staccato and the cane and top hat and jacket I was like 'Yes' and for the hour-and-a-half it was on, I was just enthralled.

"I'm pretty nervous this time.

"I've never sung, I've only ever acted the maggot. It's one thing singing in a karaoke booth after a few drinks - it's quite another in front of a million people."

Tubridy on the new set. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Tubridy on the new set. Photo: Steve Humphreys

It's Ryan's 10th year at the helm of the show, something that has really struck a chord with its host. "There is some gold waiting to happen tomorrow night, I don't know how I am going to keep it together. I seem to be quite emotional - I don't know what it is but it has gone right under my skin."

With 200 young performers waiting in the wings and 30 toy testers from across Ireland on hand to inspire every child's Santa list, it's easy to imagine the TV "gold" Ryan is talking about.

While his own children's book, 'The First Christmas Jumper and the Sheep Who Changed Everything', won't be featured on the show, there will be plenty of books put under the microscope by the 'Toy Show' book reviewers.

"The book section is very much alive and well because now more than ever we need to get books in their hands. I say if you put words in your brain it's like putting water on a plant."

Ryan will of course don a Christmas jumper for the event but even his feet have gotten the 'Toy Show' treatment this year, as he was gifted a pair of Beatles-themed 'Yellow Submarine' socks especially for the night.

Ryan has promised a show that includes everyone - maybe the child who doesn't always get Snapchatted or picked for the team first. As always, there will be something for everyone.

The festivities kick off at 9.35pm tonight on RTÉ One and worldwide on RTÉ Player.

Irish Independent

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