Hands off the Toy Show: Why the Grinch can’t steal our Late Late Christmas

The Level 5 exit plan just can’t compete with the best television programme in the world

The Late Late Toy Show: Ryan Tubridy in one of his astonishing collection of festive jumpers

The Late Late Toy Show: Ryan Tubridy in one of his astonishing collection of festive jumpers

 

How anxious is the Government not to be remembered forever as the Grinch who stole Christmas? Extremely anxious, it turns out. “We are all aware of the Toy Show issue,” a Government source said in response to queries from reporters about the timing of the announcement of the Level 5 exit plan.

“We are all aware of the Toy Show issue.” With those nine words The Late Late Toy Show’s place as the most sacred event in Irish television was cemented. The Chief Elf, I mean the Taoiseach, is expected to factor the show into the timing of his planned address to the nation, ensuring that for the sake of all the children of Ireland his speech does not clash with this national treasure of a Christmas televisual feast. I cannot wait for this bit of Reeling in 2020.

We’ve never needed Bishop Tubridy’s astonishing collection of festive jumpers and that exhilarating parade of cars, bikes and trikes more than we do as we approach the end of this annus horribilis

Some people are wondering why The Late Late Toy Show is being allowed to happen at all. Masses up and down the country have been banned, so it makes no sense that the event with the most fervent religious following in the Irish calendar is getting a Level 5 pass. Should anyone need proof of the religious nature of the show, they needed only to listen to the current keeper of the flame, Msgr Ryan Tubridy: “There was talk that the Toy Show was under threat, so when we confirmed we were going to do it, people’s response was ‘Hallelujah’. (In the Toy Show that happens in the Bible, incidentally, Baby Jesus got a Furby while Gaybo arrived on a camel to discuss the meaning of life with the three wise men.)

Back when Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer, suggested the GAA being allowed to keep playing in Level 5 would lift everybody’s spirits, he was criticised for his assumption that everybody had their spirits lifted by the GAA. Nobody could argue with the universal spirit-lifting power of The Late Late Toy Show.

We’ve never needed Bishop Tubridy’s astonishing collection of festive jumpers and that exhilarating parade of cars, bikes and trikes more than we do as we approach the end of this annus horribilis.

And while it’s important that politicians ensure no announcement spoils the fun of all the small people in our lives, it should also be remembered that The Late Late Toy Show is not just for children.

Christmas truly kicks off when you sit down with a pile of chocolates the size of Carrauntoohil, a pint of Baileys and a six-pack of Tayto in front of the best television programme in the world

Whether you have children or you don’t, Christmas truly kicks off when you sit down with a pile of chocolates the size of Carrauntoohil, a pint of Baileys and a six-pack of Tayto in front of the best television programme in the world. Every year, to the bafflement of people from Mexico to Madrid, the show trends worldwide as grown men and women try to outfunny each other on social media and be the first to comment on key moments in the show.

Who can forget JohnJoe Brennan, the budding horologist in 2009’s book section, who nearly broke the internet with his little glasses and contribution on the poetic nature of Roald Dahl? Or Alex Meehan from Dundalk ,who, in 2012, rode into the studio on a tractor with a horse outside. When Fr Tubs asked, “Any craic?” Alex responded, “Níl,” and drove off.

We are all Alex. We’ve been very good boys and girls, but we’ve had absolutely níl craic since March. No national announcement, or Level 5 exit plan, should be allowed to get in the way of the greatest toy show on earth or in any way sully all those hours of pure, Christmas-infused, escapist pleasure.

Never mind the kids. Won’t somebody think of the adults?

The Late Late Show is on RTÉ One at 9.35pm on Friday

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