Odhran and Ellie 'so excited' to star in Late Late Toy Show
CHRISTMAS has come early for two children from the north who are set to have starring roles in Friday's Late Late Toy Show.
Nine-year-olds Odhran Keown and Ellie Reynolds have told of their excitement after being selected from thousands of hopefuls to join the annual festive extravaganza.
Odhran, from Warrenpoint in Co Down, who loves reading and writing, has been invited to review several children's books during the live show.
The P6 pupil at Carrick Primary School said: "It's an opportunity of a lifetime.
"I'm so excited because I have always loved the Late Late Toy Show. I have stayed up to watch the show every year. I'm really going to enjoy the experience."
More than 285 children are taking part in the show, which this year has a Beauty and the Beast theme.
Odhran was chosen to appear on the programme following an audition in Dublin after his father Martin submitted a video of his son reviewing books.
He also sent a copy of an original book Odhran wrote while in P5 called Hermie the Crab in the Black Lagoon.
Odhran said he hoped to be able to show his book on the programme to help "inspire children to write stories of their own".
Ellie, from Portadown, will perform as part of a singing and dancing group during Ireland's most-watched television programme.
She won a place on the show after impressing judges at a regional audition in Sligo with her rendition of Reflection from Disney film Mulan.
The P5 pupil at Portadown Integrated Primary School was in tears when she heard that she was chosen to perform on the show.
"I'm really, really excited. It's my first time being on TV and it's really exciting. It's great, and my school is supporting me," she said.
She also told how a teacher has asked her to get Toy Show presenter Ryan Tubridy to sign a canvas bag branded with the school logo.
No stranger to performing, Ellie is part of the Little Starz Academy in Craigavon and in April took part in a production of Hairspray by St Agnes' Choral Society, Belfast.
She was nominated for a musical society award for her performance and came runner-up across Ireland.
She also came second in Portadown's Got Talent this year and has performed in numerous amateur shows.
Her mother Orla Reynolds (35) said Ellie has always had the performing 'bug', starting singing lessons aged four with Christine Fairley musical theatre in Portadown.
For more than a decade The Late Late Toy Show has been Ireland's most watched TV programme with around 1.4 million viewers tuning in last year.
More than 200 toys will be showcased on Friday night while more than 300 are used in the set design.
Last year's show featured 10-year-old Co Armagh karate kid Jesse Jane McParland, who has since appeared on Britain's Got Talent and the Ellen DeGeneres Show in the US.
The Toy Show began in the early 1970s as a 30-minute slot at the end of The Late Late Show and was designed as a guide to the must-have Christmas toys.
Gay Byrne presented the annual programme until Pat Kenny took over in 1999 and then Ryan Tubridy in 2009.
Earlier this year Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff accused RTÉ of "partitionism" for not holding Toy Show auditions north of the border.
For the first time the flagship festive show went on the road this year to find participants, holding auditions in Cork, Athlone, Sligo and Dublin.
RTÉ apologised if any families in Northern Ireland were disappointed, but stressed that auditionees from across the island of Ireland attended by invite only, after being selected from thousands of applications.
:: The Late Late Toy Show will be broadcast on RTÉ One on Friday from 9.35pm