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Late Late Toy Show: 13 of the most memorable shows ever


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.

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.

John Joe Brennan captured the hearts of a nation on the Late Late Toy Show in 2009

John Joe Brennan captured the hearts of a nation on the Late Late Toy Show in 2009


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.

The Late Late Toy Show is now just one night away and hints of what fans can expect have started to filter out.

Host Ryan Tubridy this week said a greater focus will be placed on the true meaning of Christmas in light of the challenges people are facing due to the cost of living crisis and the war on Ukraine.

Now the Toy Show has been an annual traditionmid-1970s and since the the show has produced moments of Christmas magic which live long in the memory.

Here are some of the most unforgettable:

John Joe’s love of clocks and watches (2009)

A child with a lot of charisma, John Joe Brennan managed to capture the public’s attention not only because of his style and eloquence, but also because of his career aspirations.

John Joe hoped to be a horologist, and even quipped that Ryan Tubridy’s watch was: “A very good marque I suppose – next to Rolex.”

John Joe kept Tubridy on his toes and laughed throughout the segment, prompting the host to ask him: “I hope you’re not taking the micky?”

The Roscommon boy also charmed audiences with his insight when explaining why he loved author Roald Dahl so much. “For children, fantasy always comes first,” he said.

Adam gives virtual hugs (2020)

In the midst of the pandemic, six-year-old Adam stole the public’s heart from the moment he spoke, as he presented a sign to host Ryan Tubridy and said: “This is a virtual hug for you – I have it because of the coronavirus.”

Adam went on to discuss his love for space, and he one day wishes to command a space mission for Nasa. He added he’d love to be an astronaut but can’t due to his “brittle bones”.

A few weeks later, Adam received a very special message from Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield for Christmas.

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Adam met Mr Hadfield virtually on the Late Late Show after the astronaut tweeted his support after seeing the Toy Show.

Mr Hadfield sent Adam and his siblings autographed copies of his astronaut portrait, wearing his space suit and standing next to the Canadian flag.

On Adam’s copy, the autographed message reads: “For my friend Adam, pursue your dreams.”

Fergal steals the show (2021)

Boy soprano Fergal stole the show last year with his impromptu rendition of the opera classic Ave Maria.

Not only did Fergal’s singing stun audiences, it also led to one of the funniest moments on the night, as he received obvious approval from another of the Toy Show’s guests.

DJ Calum (11) and his younger brother and ‘hype-man’ Jackson (5) were standing behind Fergal as he performed, and it was DJ Calum’s nod of appreciation that went viral on social media.

Saoirse Ruane raises millions of charity (2020)

Saoirse stole the hearts of the nation when she shared her story of suffering from a rare form of bone cancer and having to get her leg amputated.

She told viewers of her three wishes: appearing on the Late Late Toy Show, walking before Christmas, and going on a family holiday.

Saoirse, from Kiltullagh, Co Galway, was the inspiration behind the Toy Show appeal, which raised more than €6m for various children's charities in 2021.

Pat Kenny gets on an elephant (2002)

Perhaps one of the most dramatic entrances yet, it was simply unforgettable when Pat Kenny opened the show riding on the back of an elephant.

And of course, equally as memorable was the gentle giant’s reluctance to bring him back to earth.

"Come on, Max, down we go,” Kenny said. “I do want to get off tonight.”

Ed Sheeran surprises his biggest fan (2014)

One of the best moments of the night is always when a child is amazed to be face-to-face with their idol, and when Aimee Keogh met her favourite singer Ed Sheeran it was no exception. Not only that, but he paid for a holiday for her and her family to see him play live in London.

“I’m hysterical,” she said as she began to sing karaoke with him.

Army dad comes home (2017)

Yes, it’s always great to meet someone famous.

But sometimes it’s far sweeter to be reunited with someone close to you.

Brother and sister Adam and Kayla Burke were filled with glee when their father, who had been based in Mali with the Defence Forces, appeared unexpectedly. What a great Christmas present.

Michael meets hero Davy Fitz (2018)

Diehard GAA fan Michael O'Brien, from Co Kerry, was shocked when he met his sporting hero Davy Fitzgerald. The visually impaired boy did not hesitate when he asked then the then Wexford boss: “How are you so passionate?”

Fitzgerald told Michael that they were both “fighters” and he invited the boy to come along to a Wexford match the following spring.

RTÉ later filmed a documentary about Michael’s day with the Wexford hurlers, which included a pre-match team talk that the schoolboy wrote and delivered himself.

Toby Kane left speechless by Girls Aloud (2003)

While it’s exciting to see someone freak out over a celebrity, it’s equally as cute when they’re simply starstruck.

Toby Kane won a singing competition, and was performing a Girls Aloud song when the girl band suddenly sneaked up behind him.

Little Toby was left speechless and was only able to nod his head.

No craic to be had for Alex (2012)

It’s standard now for kids to roll out on small vehicles for the wheels parade.

And in 2012 there were plenty of laughs when Ryan Tubridy stopped Alex Meehan in his toy tractor.

He surprised Ryan with some fluent Irish and, asked if there was any craic, he simply responded: “Níl.”

Domhnall meets Robbie Keane (2013)

Another adorable reaction came from Domhnall Ó Confhaol after he was surprised by legendary Ireland football star Robbie Keane.

Domhnall was chatting away to Ryan about what a great player Robbie was before he came out on stage. The expression on Domhnall’s face made it even more memorable.

Ryan and Edie make a “pizza” (2016)

If the Italians thought pineapple on pizza was bad, they won’t be able to stomach this.

It was so much fun to watch little Edie Rose make a pizza with some, shall we say, interesting ingredients.

Alongside Ryan, they threw sweets, chocolates and whipped cream onto it, all while laughing away.

Junior culchie of the year (2009)

Little Mark McSharry walked on stage and proudly announced he was the junior culchie of the year after winning an award at school, which provided the audience with plenty of laughs.

Gay Byrne gets drenched by Zig and Zag (1991)

Gay Byrne had no idea what was about to happen when Zig and Zag and the gang interrupted his show, only to drench him with water guns.

Dustin the Turkey added insult to injury by saying: “It’s a pity we couldn’t get Pat Kenny.”

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