The Toy Show: An Irish Tradition on Crack


Once upon a time there was a very special night in late November on RTÉ’s Late Late Show when we had the Toy Show; where every child on the island was allowed to stay up past twelve with sweets and hot chocolate to see all the toys mum and dad couldn’t afford. It was the place where the off-spring of the great and the good could be showcased singing and dancing, and where the viewing plebeian kids were given a shining glimpse of real social inequality. Those were the good old days. Then came Twitter!

All those children set up for disappointment through the 70s, 80s, and 90s grew up into the digital age and were given the power of instant comment through the medium of the internet, and they have taken to it with gusto. Live tweeting the night on the hashtag #LateLateToyShow has become the highlight of the Christmas build-up for many in Ireland, and the show never fails to deliver the snowballs to be thrown back. The host, Ryan Tubridy – a descendant of the Plantagenet kings of England (that is how egalitarian it all is) – is almost universally despised, and his zombie like manner around children has become the most delicious Twitter fodder.

In many respects it has become a microcosm of the Irish year with every social and political axe being grinded in the two and a half hours of the show. It is a true Irish catharsis. This year Twitter was hoping for a free water charges amnesty for everyone in the audience – and everyone in the country, the embarrassing tokenism of sick and disabled children was given the customary minute’s silence during the drive-through section, and the special guests were greeted with demands that they take over the show next year (except for Evelyn Cusack – that would be a nightmare before Christmas).

As always ‘Tubs’ (Ryan Tubridy) grew more and more erratic after every ad break, leading to suspicion that he was doing lines of ‘snow’ with the stagehands in the his dressing room. It is Christmas after all, and Ireland needs to get all of this stuff of its collective chest before that day comes when we are all forced to spend the entire day with those people we send the whole rest of the year trying to avoid because of their obnoxious antics this time last year. It’s culture.

Ùr-Fhàsaidh
Jason Michael
Blog Author

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