All systems go for this year’s Late Late Toy Show

Perennial favourite strikes right note with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang musical theme

Ryan Tubrity speaks about the success of the Late Late Toy Show and the perils of the live talk show format. Video: Daniel O'Connor


It says something about the enduring appeal of The Late Late Toy Show that last year’s was the most popular to date, drawing an average of 1.4 million viewers.

Though we live in multichannel land, this uniquely Irish attraction never fails to beguile viewers, both young and old. At one point in last year’s broadcast two million viewers tuned in, making it the most popular Irish TV programme outside of sport for 14 years.

This year’s theme will revolve around the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, though without the malevolent figure of the Child Catcher. The opening act, and it will be hard-pressed to top last year’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins, will be the title track of the musical.

The opening act will have 46 performers in total and 191 performers showcasing their talent throughout the show.

Expectations are being played down for this year’s Toy Show with host Ryan Tubridy stating that it will be “impossible” to surpass the success of last year’s edition.

Tubridy puts the success of last year’s show down to a feeling abroad that the recession was over and a little indulgence was allowed.

“I have no intentions of exceeding that figure this year. I would manage all expectations. It was through the roof (last year) and I don’t think it would be realistic to do as well as that.”

Social media

The basis for that pessimism is not clear though undoubtedly social media, especially Twitter, has helped to draw the curious to the programme.

There is now an international audience for the show through the RTÉ Player, especially for ex-pats nostalgic about this fixture of Irish childhood.

It is Tubridy’s sixth Toy Show. He came up with the idea of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang “in the green room after last year’s show. I already have plans for next year.”

Some 120,000 children applied for tickets. Even the four women who knitted each of the jumpers he will wear tonight do not have tickets.

This year’s event will have 269 performers and toy testers taking part.

He hasn’t seen the TV3 Toy Show. “I was going to watch it on Saturday but . . . I’m only interested in one toy show.”