Consider the grey of Kansas firmly left behind. Viewers of Friday night's Late Late Toy Show were treated to a technicolor extravaganza as host Ryan Tubridy and more than 200 children travelled over the rainbow and down the yellow brick road. Here are some of the highlights from the Wizard Oz-themed show.
It was an emotional moment when Liverpool fan Cealan Green, who wants to be either a footballer or a teacher when he grows up, was surprised by the appearance of his favourite keeper. Cork man Caoimhin Kelleher took his place in the goal while a blindfolded Caelan was breezing footballs into the net.
When he removed his blindfold, Cealan was overcome with joy and all he wanted was a hug from his hero. He got that and more: Caoimhin presented him with a kit signed by the whole Liverpool squad and a trip to Anfield with his family.
When a guy with a mullet walks into the room you know you’re about to witness something awesome. Billy Brady from Kildare greeted Tubridy confidently and was full of pride for his distinct ‘do (and he gave a shout-out to his barber, Denise). When asked to describe it he used the classic phrase ‘business in the front, party in the back’.
When Billy grows up he wants be a Garda so Tubs gave him his own junior Garda uniform and sent him off in a little squad car, but not before asking who he would arrest if given the chance. His answer: “Anyone.”
Caitríona Kalogeraki came to the Late Late Toy Show to chat about her favourite subject: Harry Potter. In fact, she liked it so much she refused to leave the set. The playful girl joked with Ryan that she was staying put when he tried to usher her back to the green room and for a time, it looked like she was to become a permanent fixture in Donnybrook.
It followed a touching video message for Caitríona from Harry Potter star Emma Watson, who praised her for speaking beautifully about her autism. Caitríona spoke passionately about how she sees autism as an ability and wanted to spread positivity for other neurodivergent children watching.
"You are so, special... You just try your best, you can do it." ❤️— The Late Late Show (@RTELateLateShow) November 25, 2022
Catriona Kalogeraki got a shout out from her idol @EmmaWatson and in turn shared a beautiful messaage about her special ability. 👏🏼#LateLateToyShow pic.twitter.com/jPEie0fhGu
When Saoibh Lonergan was in hospital, she became best friends with two other patients. During her appearance on the Toy Show, Tubridy invited her hospital pals to join them for a "little tea party”. Saoibh was instantly thrilled to see Jack and Ellie Mae and there was another surprise in store: all three of them were getting trips to Disneyland Paris with their families.
Saoibh and Ellie Mae were over the moon but Jack didn’t seem too affected by the news. When asked by the host about it, he shrugged and said he would go to Disneyland when he turns 12. We can only aspire to have his level of patience to wait so long.
Very few children are selected to go on the Toy Show, and even fewer can boast they celebrated a birthday on set. Emmie O’Neill scored a hattrick on Friday night while marking her 12th birthday: the aspiring comic got a video message from Mrs Brown, she met her heroes in the Ireland Women’s football team, and she learned she was travelling to Australia with her family and getting the opportunity to enjoy a training session with the squad.
All roads really do lead to Oz.
For much of the night on social media, there was only one thing viewers could talk about: The Woo Woo Man. Throughout the show we could hear what was possibly the world’s most enthusiastic audience member whooping and cheering with delight.
The grandmother of the music group Cuckoo's Nest earned a cheer from him (“Hon, Cuckoo,” he called, much to Tubridy’s glee) and his joyous woos were so frequent he became quite the talking point on Twitter.
Dublin Fire Brigade joked: “We have removed the 'woo' from our sirens after listening to comments made about the #LateLateToyShow audience. You will now only hear 'wee waw' or 'nee naw'.”