Crabs are noted for moving sideways, but Ryan Tubridy will be moving in every direction tonight, writes Evelyn Ring.
Ryan and a cast of hundreds will be diving under the sea as the theme of this year’s Late Late Toy Show is inspired by the 1989 Walt Disney animated film The Little Mermaid.
It will be the presenter’s ninth toy show, and this time he takes on the role of Sebastian, a red crab from the Caribbean island of Jamaica and a servant of King Triton.
“We are going nautical but nice. I have wanted to do The Little Mermaid for the Toy Show for years and, at last, my ship has come in,” he said.
“I invite everyone to forget about the flotsam and jetsam of modern life, come where the people are and be part of our world for a couple of hours tonight — it’s going to be great fun.”
This year’s show will have over 200 talented young performers and 28 toy testers taking part. They are from all over Ireland, and the youngest participants are just four years old.
The nautically-themed set has been created by RTÉ production designers Marcella Power and Catherine Sorg.
“I will be Sebastian. I have known Sebastian all my life as a lobster. Apparently, he is a crab, but I am calling him a crabster on the basis that he is one part crab, one part lobster and one part hipster.”
Ryan said he had been practising his moves and gave a quick run-through of his “box step” and joked that he was a “dancing genius”.
Asked if he was going to get wet, Ryan said he asked the elves who were putting the toys together to include lots of gooey slime so that things would get very messy.
Ryan admitted he was always nervous about the show, even on a regular Friday night, but he would be even more so tonight because the interest in the Toy Show was huge.
“I feel like I am about to resign from a cabinet, which is all the rage,” he said.
Ryan said he fed off the children’s excitement and became even giddier and wide-eyed, adding that “we are all mates in about two seconds”.
But the show will also have a serious element with over 3,000 children homeless in Ireland. “I find that preposterous and really not acceptable in 2017,” said Ryan.
There would be children on the set reflecting every part of Irish life, including those who were homeless but their privacy would be protected.
Ryan said he would be conscious that other children would be watching the
show on television in a hotel room with their family. “That is not good, and we have a responsibility to talk about that,” he said.
He urged viewers not to miss the very start of the show — there was a small sequence that was off-beat, and he liked it.
Asked if there will be any big surprises, Ryan said they would not have famous singers or actors, but there would be moments that would be “very beautiful” if they came to pass.
Among the performers tonight will be brother and sister, Cathal and Nessa Markham, from Ballingarry, Co Limerick and looking on will be their proud parents, Aoife and Shane.
Nessa, 12, will be singing while Shane, 10, accompanies her on the guitar. But the two long-time members of Croagh School of Music, whose cousin is actress, Ruth Negga, were giving
nothing away about their performance.
During their audition in Galway last October they performed Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran and Stitches by Shawn Mendes.
Late Late Show executive producer John McMahon said they were already planning the next Late Late Toy Show and have chosen a theme.
“We have already started discussions on what we will do with the set,” said Mr McMahon, who was giving nothing away.
“Ryan’s job tonight (Friday) will be to create madness, and our job is to try and put an order on that madness.”
The set was designed and created over several weeks but was only erected bit by bit in the relatively small studio last Sunday.
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