In praise of the 'Late Late Toy Show'
Never mind the sleigh bells, Santa or even the first few notes of Fairytale of New York, there is nothing that says it is Christmas in Ireland quite as unambiguously as the Late Late Toy Show.
As soon as Ryan Tubridy bound on to the Shrek-inspired set last night in an outfit even an ogre would have found questionable, the festive season got well and truly under way.
The toy show is as quintessentially Irish as Tayto crisps and Barry’s Tea and not even the horrendously precocious, infuriatingly talented kids from the Billie Barry School have been able to spoil the party since toys were first put centre stage out in Montrose under the watchful gaze of Uncle Gaybo back in 1973.
There can’t be many Irish people under 50 who don’t have fond memories of being allowed to stay up to watch Gay Byrne, Pat Kenny or Tubridy pull on ridiculous jumpers and put toys through their paces in the company of sometimes hilariously earnest children.
It is one of the highlights of the television year even for those of us who have only a marginal interest in Furbies, Sylvanian Families or the VTech Innotab 2 – think iPad for kids.
Tubridy is not without his critics but when it comes to the toy show, he is out on his own. He always engages with his young helpers with a goofy charm that his predecessors did not have or couldn’t fake.