More than a million people tuned in to see last Friday night’s (27 Nov 2020) The Late Late Toy Show on RTE1 to see what this year’s Covid-19 “virtual” toy show would look like. Let’s face it, since it first hit our screens in 1975, watching the Late Late Toy Show has become an Irish Christmas tradition. The show began as a half-hour slot at the end of ‘The Late Late Show’,
designed to give parents an idea of what toys were in the shops for Christmas while their children were supposed to be asleep in bed. It soon became a one-night show in its own right, complete with children toy-testers and performers.
Usually, the Toy Show audience has up to 250 people and getting your hand on a ticket is akin to getting a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket. Not only does the audience see the cute, hilarious, talented child testers and performers, the show attracts numerous sponsors touting their wares and many offer “one (free) for everyone in the audience”. This year's show was spectacular with the children stealing the show.....and it raised more than €6.5m for children's charities and causes around Ireland.
So, the Toy Show reminded me of the time when I was once a member of the audience of the Late Late….although not so lucky to be at the coveted Toy Show. Our work Sports & Social Club got allocated 10 tickets for a show at the end of October 2005. They were then raffled amongst the Club members and Rosemary, Regina, Kathleen, Charlie, Audrey and I, along with 4 others were the lucky ones. Charlie and I weren’t an item at that stage. Another work couple had a blossoming romance though…..Audrey had a clandestine first date with Paul that night so she gave her ticket to her lovely mother, Sheila. (That first date worked out so well that Audrey and Paul are now married 10 years and have two beautiful children.)💖
Anyway, that Oct 2005 evening we all trotted off to Studio 4 in RTE ….along with 200 + others. We spent some time in the Green Room…..probably too long as I don’t remember a lot of the show! (Luckily, I have no photos of our group as selfies weren’t a “thing” back then! 😂). On the way in, there was a photo montage for the Audience Competition…all related to Austria. We all had to write our answer (Austria) on a ticket and drop it in a box. At this point, Charlie hopped up on a step and jokingly shouted out to the rest of the audience ….”No point ye entering this competition….I’m gonna win!!”
We made our way then into the studio and I was seated in the front row to the left of Pat Kenny, our host that night. Charlie, Sheila and Kathleen were seated further back and the others in our group scattered throughout the audience:
Imagine the surprise and hilarity when Pat pulled out Charlie’s name as the winner of the Audience Competition. Everyone in the audience remembered Charlie from earlier so there was lots of shouting and laughter. And now he had actually won the trip to Austria!! Here’s a clip from RTE of what happened:
So not only has The Late Late Show been influencing public attitudes, directing social change and helping shape Irish societal norms since 1962; it also sent Charlie to Austria!! 😂
As I don’t remember a lot of the actual show after that….other than the subsequent guest being David Beckham’s Dad, for my non-Irish friends especially I’ll explain a bit about The Late Late Show in general. It averages 650,000 viewers per episode and has consistently achieved RTÉ's highest ratings. There’s been 3 regular hosts of the show.
The original host the late Gay Byrne (“Uncle Gaybo”) presented the show until 21 May 1999. Gay was probably my favourite host of the three. He had a knack for letting a conversation flow and often ending up with some memorable interviews e.g. Spike Milligan, Pádraig Flynn, Annie Murphy, Mother Teresa etc.
Once while my mother, Peggy was visiting me in Dublin for her annual birthday weekend at the beginning of December, we had the pleasure of meeting Gay as he switched on the Christmas Tree lights at the top of Grafton Street. Gay said “Hello, hello, hello” and Peggy got to shake his hand….I’d swear she didn’t wash that hand for a week.
Pat Kenny was Gay's successor hosting the show for 10 years between 1999 and 2009. Some memorable moments for Pat included interviews with Joe O’Reilly, Jerry Seinfeld and Brendan Gleeson ….and tearing up the Toy Show Tickets on the quiz winner who said she didn’t want them.
Ryan Tubridy is the current presenter, having succeeded Pat in September 2009. This year, when Ryan was quarantined with (initially) suspected symptoms of COVID-19…..and then tested positive, Miriam O'Callaghan took over his role until he recovered. Notable interviews to date by Ryan include Tony Blair, Joan Collins and Paul Murphy.
Some of the great music tributes on The Late Late: (Above) The Clancy Bros. & Tommy Makem (1984)...and (Below) The Dubliners (1987).
The Late Late also did some great tribute and music shows down through the years. Ones I remember in particular are The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem:
….and The Dubliners.
Many bands and singers had their first televised performance on the Late Late: Boyzone, Sinead O’Connor, U2, Westlife amongst others. So a lot of things “started on the Late Late Show”…..including Charlie’s trip to Austria!!😂
Bucket List Items Partly Ticked Off in the above Blog post
Number 26 - Entertainment & Sport - Be in the audience of a Prime Time TV Show
Other Blog Posts
Blog 7 - Alice Springs, Australia
Blog 8 - Adelaide, Australia
Blog 9 - Melbourne, Australia
Blog 10 - Cairns, Australia
Blog 11 - Sydney, Australia
Blog 16 - Books 8 of 80 to read now!
Do you like The Late Late? What's your favourite memory of it? Let me know in the Comments Below
If you liked this post, please share. Sharing is caring 😊.
And if you'd like to be reminded of new posts, sign up to my e-mail reminder!
My name is Mary and this is my bucket list blog ...having survived a near-death experience. I hope it encourages you to "live your best life". See how I'm completing my own bucket list items. And let me know how you're getting on with yours!