The Late Late Toy Show: A true reflection of 2020

Emma Costigan

The Late Late Toy Show has graced our screens for 45 years. While it’s quality entertainment year on year, the show has become largely materialistic, especially with the use of the notorious phrase “one for everyone in the audience”. 

To a plethora of people, The Toy Show is the pivotal introduction to the Christmas season. Families decorate their trees that afternoon, children are allowed to stay up late to choose their Santa presents and there’s just an air of eagerness and festivity around. 

Inversely of this, there’s an almost equal amount of families that dread the day The Toy Show airs. Scores of expensive toys are shown, which children fall in love with – this isn’t always feasible for families. 

2020 has been the worst year in living memory for a lot of people due to job loss, heartache and monetary problems. Whilst this subject can be quite emotional, The Toy Show reflected people’s circumstances tremendously. 

In perhaps the greatest Toy Show of its 45-year career, Ryan Tubridy astounded audiences across the globe with his tribute to “The Wonderful World of Roald Dahl”. Dressed as Fantastic Mr Fox, Tubridy took part in multiple musical numbers with the children. Despite his whimsical, sometimes unknowingly crude personality, he truly presented himself as down-to-earth and understanding. 

Unlike previous years, there was little mention of toys and presents and focused more heavily on the children participating in this year’s Toy Show. One of the children that stood out to audiences was eight-year-old Saoirse Ruane. Saoirse had been previously diagnosed with a tumour and was in the process of learning how to walk again with her new prosthetic leg.

As she told her story, viewers were completely touched by her can-do, positive attitude. Tubridy himself was so touched by Saoirse’s story that for the first time ever, RTÉ launched “The Toy Show Appeal” in aid of three children’s charities. Since its launch on the night, The Toy Show Appeal has raised over €6 million for these charities – a breathtaking sentiment to those in need, especially this year.

Another honourable mention is that of six-year-old Adam King. Adam, who was diagnosed with brittle bones, came onstage in a wheelchair offering Tubridy and the audiences at home a virtual hug. Prior to being on set, Adam explained to producers who his personal Irish heroes were, one of whom was a John Doyle, who Adam described as “the nicest hospital porter in Ireland”. Doyle came on stage as a surprise as Adam’s eyes lit up with adoration. It was a truly mesmerisingly pure moment in TV history.

This year’s Toy Show has given a wake-up call to the public. Christmas is most certainly not all toys and gifts, rather those whom we spend our lives with, family and friends. Hats off to RTÉ for finally portraying that important message and for a truly unforgettable experience.

Emma Costigan

Image Credit: RTE