Hasn’t the Toy Show got very big? Years ago it was just a tiny little thing, a sliver of the much bigger Late Late Show. In the past 14 years, fronted by Ryan Tubridy, the Toy Show has mushroomed into a sort of national party.
f course you don’t have to watch it, but its tsunami of advance publicity, compendiums of musical performances from past shows ( very good as a matter of fact) and the Toy Show’s television advertisements for itself have become impossible to avoid. It has exploded, driving Christmas before it. We’re still in November; just saying.
On Friday morning it was revealed the theme of this year’s show would be The Wizard of Oz. But on The Afternoon Show that same day Maura and Daithi said they wouldn’t even ask Ryan what the theme was. Ryan put his finger to his slips in conspiratorial fashion. He must have given so many pre-match interviews that he’d forgotten what he had said in them – and you can’t blame him.
The children are always fantastic. Lucy Hoban from Galway who quite sensibly wants to be a singing vet when she grows up and is getting a new baby brother for Christmas. Billy Brady whose barber Denise had cut his hair into a mullet “Business at the front, party at the back”, and whose favourite shop in KIlcullen, county Kildare, is Centra. When he grows up Billy wants to be a member of An Garda Siochana and arrest “anybody”. And the moment of the show for me was Cealan calmly tidying up a discarded lid of his Liverpool football game. That’s before he was surprised by the appearance of the Liverpool goalie Caomhin Kelleher, who was charming and offered Cealan a trip to Anfield. “I’m buzzing” said Cealan.
It was good to see real hugs on television, and how spontaneously they were offered. It was also amazing to see the generosity of the Irish public coming to the fore again, with €3.1m raised for good causes.
There were other moments too. For example when Ryan asked Saoibh from Tramore in county Waterford what friendships she had formed in hospital. “Which hospital?” replied Saoibh whose quest for clarity indicates a very successful future. She deserves it. When her friends Ellie Mae and Jack, who had shared a room with her in St Gabriel’s in Temple Street hospital, came on Saoibh’s joy was good to see. All three were rewarded with 5 day trips to Disneyland in Paris.
Between prizes for the children and constant prizes for the audience, the show was coming down in giveaways. Sometimes the surprises, at least, were overwhelming. Caitriona, a Harry Potter fan meeting with the actress Emma Watson, who played Hermione nearly ended with the child exploding.
That’s okay. As Caitriona said “It’s the Toy Show, Ryan.”
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However as a production the Toy Show is repetitive. There are only so many kids being adorable you can take. And there’s an awful lot of Ryan Tubridy, who changed his sweater- and at least on one occasion even his shoes – after every commercial break , as if he was a a homespun Shirley Bassey.
It’s a strange thing to say about a show which is ostensibly all about the kids, but as we reeled from the demonstrations of the toys – and no one asked how much any of the toys cost – to the old fashioned musical performances to the prizes and the audience tirelessly cheering, it was as if the kids were accessories to the programme rather than central to it. It is Ryan who is the focus of it.
That’s understandable: he’s a reliable performer. But the Toy Show needs a reboot, and it is nearly impossible for any programme to run for two and a half hours and maintain any semblance of freshness.
And now the Toy Show is a musical, due to open in a fortnight. How much Christmas happiness can one nation take?
Ryan Tubridy has told at least two publications about how exhausting he finds The Toy Show and how in the past he made the mistake of not taking enough time off afterwards. There are those of us who are going to take his advice and take a couple of days to recover.