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Late Late Toy Show to pay tribute to Gay Byrne

Ryan Tubridy with children from the Spotlight stage school on the set of The Late Late Toy Show 2019 which this year is themed around the Disney movie Frozen. Picture by Andres Poveda
Brendan Hughes

THE Late Late Toy Show is to pay a special tribute to former host Gay Byrne.

RTÉ promised a "special nod" to the broadcasting legend when the annual festive extravaganza airs live tonight.

Byrne, who died earlier this month aged 85 after a long illness, presented RTÉ's flagship Late Late Show for more than 30 years.

He was also the first host of the Toy Show, which began in the early 1970s as a 30-minute slot at the end of the Friday night programme as a guide to the must-have Christmas toys.

It soon expanded into a one-night show in its own right, and has become Ireland's most watched TV programme with around 1.5 million viewers tuning in each year.

Byrne presented the annual programme until Pat Kenny took over in 1999 and then Ryan Tubridy in 2009.

More than 200 children will take part in tonight's production, which this year is themed around Disney's hit musical film series Frozen.

Hundreds of toys have been tested and will feature throughout the show.

Tubridy, now in his 11th year as host, will again take part in an opening performance which he said is his "most outrageous" to date.

"There will be a lot of goof this year and that will be obvious as soon as I step out in the most outrageous of costumes," he said.

"It involves a very toothy grin – even my own weren't sufficient for the occasion."

Tubridy said that family, nostalgia and the experience of watching the show together are at the heart of this year's edition.

"This year, viewers will get a sense of family, drawing from Anna and Elsa in Frozen and Frozen 2," he said.

"A lot of the emphasis this year is on family and coming together and gathering to watch the show, as they have done for decades.

"It's not a picture perfect portrayal of family, because every family is different, and they come in all shapes and sizes.

"It doesn't matter, once you are there together and are happy and surrounded by people you love, that's what it's all about."

He encouraged viewers to "put down their phone or tablet for two hours and talk about the show with each other".

Like in previous years, several charities nominated children who got a sneak preview of the Frozen-themed set in advance of tonight's programme.

All the toys featured on the show will be donated to charity following the broadcast.

:: The Late Late Toy Show airs tonight at 9.35pm on RTÉ One.

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