Big kid Ryan Tubridy plans a Christmas tale as old as time for Late Late Toy Show

Ryan Tubridy has revealed that his daughters inspired the theme of tonight’s Late Late Toy Show.

“Beauty and the Beast is the theme,” he says. “This idea was conceived from multiple viewings of the movie at home and then after the show last year we were sitting, having a few glasses of 7Up, and I explained I had an idea for the next theme.

“I went through how I saw it all in my head and they [RTÉ executives] said: ‘We’ll think about it, thank you for that.’ ”

However, children of all ages will have to wait until after the news tonight to find out whether Ryan will be the beauty or the beast.

Ryan with Luke O’Connor, 4, from Dublin, on the set of The Late Late Toy Show which airs tonight from 9.30pm

“My opening — I’m leaving as a bit of a mystery because we want some element of surprise on the night,” he says. “But you will see me as you’ve never seen me before, and as you never wish to see to me again.

“I did a dance with the devil a few years ago by asking that if they let me do Mary Poppins that I would learn to dance — and now I’m paying for that. They keep pushing the boat out, but that’s the nature of the show and the day.”

Ryan, who will be singing and dancing on tonight’s show, says that, “without question”, his two daughters inspired the latest theme.

“I went to see it in first year of college — even then I was immature — and thought it was magnificent,” he admits. “The girls then got stuck into it as well, so it’s been quite a regular on the TV in the house. There would be huge influence from the more important elements in my life.”

Megan Larney, from Monaghan, as Mrs Potts, on the set of tonight’s Late Late Toy Show

Ryan believes the toy show remains a hit because it is a welcome relief from the day-to-day cynicism of the world.

“The popularity comes because, I think, the world has become increasingly less magical and this is magic,” he says. “That maybe sounds a little saccharine, but I believe in it.

“When people are watching it, they sense that I’m beaming from ear to ear and it’s sincere, and that it’s authentic. There’s something sweet about it — it’s untarnished or undampened by cynicism. People suspend their misgivings about places or people for one night only. It’s a green zone of kindness.”

Asked whether he found children or politicians more difficult to handle on live TV, Ryan is unable to make a comparison.

“They’re both totally different,” he says. “The toy show is an anomaly in its peculiarity. A regular Late Late Show is more like the day job. This is a big, big beast and it’s a huge challenge. But, to be honest, when the cameras are rolling, I’ll forget they’re there. I’m having fun and literally become a child myself.”

However, Ryan, who will change his jumper three times during the show, won’t be the only child on set, as 235 other children will take part. Thiha Kearney O’Sullivan, 9, and brother Kaleb, 5, from Kanturk, Co Cork, are involved in a traditional music group, with Thiha on the concertina and Kaleb lilting. Mum Helen says they are very excited.

Ryan with Luca, Finn, and Dempsey Byrne Mountcharles, Thia and Kaleb Kearney O’Sullivan, and Emma Murray

“The first two or three days [after the auditions] they kept asking: ‘Are we going to be on? Are we going to be on?’ And they were listening to Ryan, they were late for school three mornings because they wanted to hear the show because they were so into it.”

“I’m excited about being on The Late Late Toy Show and meeting Ryan Tubridy,” says Thiha.

However, Kaleb is tight-lipped on what he and his sister were going to be doing on stage, revealing only that “it’s top secret”.

The Late Late Toy Show will start at 9.30pm on RTÉ One.


The Late Late Toy Show in numbers:

  • Number of children taking part: 285.
  • Age of youngest performer: 4.
  • Number of toys featured in the show: 200+.
  • Number of weeks to design and construct the set: 7.
  • Number of jumper changes: 3.
  • Average viewership for last year’s The Late Late Toy Show figure was 1.357m.


Stories from a seanachaí at Cork World Book Fest

Hats off to Dali: Exhibition shows largest collection of artist's work in Ireland

Meet the Cork man who made Westlife's new video

These are the wedding wines to consider if you’re planning your big day

More From The Irish Examiner