Friday night’s Late Late Toy Show was a rollercoaster of emotion as a pack of talented children took over our screens for the Lion King-themed extravaganza.
We laughed as DJ Callum and hype man Jackson reacted when the super talented Fergal started singing Ave Maria. We were delighted to see some fantastic surprise guests in the form of Olympic champion Kellie Harrington and chart-topping singer Ed Sheeran. And our hearts nearly burst when the lovely Finn spoke about his experience with cancer and his joy at ringing the bell to signal he’d defeated the disease earlier this year.
Host Ryan Tubridy was in flying form, singing in not one but two ensemble performances: the live opening number and a pre-recorded performance in the Olympia. He emerged at the show’s beginning in full costume on the path unwinding, singing and dancing among the jungle creatures before later joining forces with a choir of children to sing Finn breaks the bell.
One special moment that stood out was Tubridy’s chat with Finn Ryan. A massive Lego fan, Finn revealed he only became interested in the bricks after he was diagnosed with cancer.
“When I had cancer I was hooked up to a load of machines and the only thing I could play was Lego,” Finn explained, adding he defeated cancer and was lucky to ring the bell in hospital to mark the moment. On the Toy Show set, he was given an opportunity to repeat that moment for a much bigger audience.
“We’re going to ring this bell for you and as a bell of hope for all the other children,” Tubridy told him. Finn, with a beaming smile, grabbed the rope and started ringing the bell with an inspiring enthusiasm. “That broke,” he said gently as he finished, handing the host the remains of the rope he’d ripped in two with the strength of his joy.
The Toy Show Appeal returned with a strong influx of donations from the viewers at home. Having raised €6.6 million through last year’s show, the team this year had raised €3.3 million by the time the credits rolled soon after midnight. This year donations could come through the Revolut app too, which soon crashed under the traffic of viewers rushing to donate once more.
We heard from Tubridy about the children whose lives were improved by last year’s appeal and the Late Late Toy Show choir consisted of children from groups who benefited from the donations.
Mid-song, the choir was joined by Ed Sheeran, who is performing stadium concerts around the country in 2022. He offered all the children in the choir and their families tickets of their choice for one of those gigs before he was roped into a game of Pencil Nose with Tubridy and two Cork boys. Only in Ireland.
Speaking of those Cork boys, Jamie and Coben from The Kabin Studio in Knocknaheeny wowed the audience and the award-winning star sitting with them with a rap performance that Sheeran requested after seeing a video of the pair performing while busking.
Sheeran wasn’t the only celebrity guest. Considering the Lion King theme, it now seems obvious that Kellie ‘Hakuna Matata’ Harrington would make an appearance. Boxer Harrington revealed she applies for audience tickets for the Toy Show every year- including this year - while meeting best friends and sport-mad girls Darcy and Poppy. The girls were bowled over and awestruck by the Olympic gold medalist.
And of course, our comedy highlight of the night. When Fergal hopped off his vehicle during the parade of toy cars and bikes after being beckoned by the Toy Show host. We didn’t expect what was to come - and evidently neither did DJ Callum and hype man Jackson who were spinning the decks and getting the audience and children clapping along. Fergal opened his mouth and a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Ave Maria was heard. It would have been memorable in its own right due to the 10 year old’s raw talent, but it was a jaw-dropping reaction of DJ Callum over his shoulder that caught everyone’s eye. Callum will never win a game of poker, but he has won the nation’s heart.