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This year’s Late Late Toy Show moved from Oz to a winter wonderland and back again.
Host Ryan Tubridy revealed yesterday that the Wizard of Oz would be the theme of this year’s show but that it would also focus on the meaning of Christmas.
Around 200 young performers and toy testers took part this year, with the youngest aged just four.
The annual special opened with Tubridy driving a Dublin Bus down “Yellow Brick Road”, before he and his followers were transported to a land of wonder.
Dorothy, Toto, Ryan ‘the Scarecrow’ Tubridy and the rest of the ‘Merry old land of Oz’ singers kicked things off with a medley of songs from cinematic classic.
“This is what happens when a pandemic ends,” Tubridy said. “Welcome one and all.”
Lucy from Galway was the first toy tester this year. Lucy said her three brothers are “loud but I still love them”, and her parents are expecting a new baby boy who they plan to name “Leo”.
Lucy seemed right at home on stage and even sang ‘Shake it off’ by Taylor Swift.
Kildare’s Billy Brady (7) explained to Ryan that his mullet was “business at the front and party at back”, and he even gave his barber Denise a plug.
The Kilcullen boy said his favourite thing to buy in the local Centra is the “pastabake” and even his mum’s “isn’t the same”. Billy plans to follow his aunt’s footsteps and become a “Garda” when he is older, so he “can arrest people”. The honorary Toy Show officer, drove off in search of “Mac’n’Cheese” in his junior squad car.
Liverpool fan Cealan, from Dublin, said he wants to play for the ‘Reds’ and Ireland when he’s older and if not, he’ll settle for being a teacher.
He got a huge surprise when Liverpool keeper Caoimhin kelleher appeared from out of the blew and gave him his goalie gloves, a team jersey signed by the whole Liverpool squad, and a trip for him and his family to Anfield.
Cealan said Caoimhin is the “best goal in my opinion” and he was “buzzing” with the prizes which were “too much”.
Then 6-year-old, aviation enthusiast, Aron from Mayo burst on the stage saying: “Welcome back Ryan… Flying is very cool.”
For being “such a good pilot” Aron was awarded a trip to Dublin Airport, where he will get VIP access and become a pilot for the day.
Saoibh (10) from Co Waterford told of the brace which she wears following a procedure to keep her back straight.
Saoibh, who “knows all her hospitals”, said she has made friends in care centres across the country, including a nurse she called “Cora troublemaker” who she once shot with a water gun.
Saoibh wrote a song for everyone in St Gabriel’s Ward, in Temple Street and she wowed the crowd with the song which is about all the people who helped her.
“You’ll always be a raining rainbow to me,” she sang.
Her friends Jack and Ellie Mai surprised Saoibh, who said their favourite times in hospital were spent eating “McDonalds and chocolate doughnuts”.
The three friends were surprised with a trip Disneyland Paris for five nights.
“Did you know about this,” Saoibh asked Ellie Mai. “Jack did you,” she added.
Meanwhile, “best friends” of four years, Jeremiah and Jane from Waterford, said they bonded over their love of superheroes.
Halfway through, the show moved outside the studio building, where Montrose had been transformed into an idyllic winter wonderland which was sprinkled with well-appointed Christmas trees.
Tubridy emerged from one of the trees and, in between throwing snowballs at the talent, he joined the Spotlight stage school performers in a rousing rendition of the Christmas classic, ‘Let it Snow’.
Caitriona (10) from Dublin shared a special message about what it’s like to live with autism.
Caitriona got a huge surprise when Harry Potterstar Emma Watson recorded a special message for her.
Watson said she wanted to thank Caitriona “what you do to spread awareness about autism”.
“And for speaking about it so eloquently and in a way that empowers and educates other young people. Thank for picking me as your favourite Harry Potter character. You just seem like such a special and amazing young person. I’ve heard you can do a rubric cube in a crazy quick amount of time and your dog just had 14 puppies.
“I’m sending you all the best and a very warm hello and thank you from London,” she added.
Caitriona said tomorrow she is “going to watch a Harry Potter film”. She told everyone about her “ability”.
“I have this thing called autism,” she said. “And I want to say a message for kids out there, if you are neurodivergent or just feel different or don’t feel good, I just want to say that you are so, so special. You are amazing, and you can just try your best and you can do it.”
Caitriona was followed by the “Cuckoo’s Nest”, which is made up of Wexford grandmother Maureen Codd and her 14 grandchildren who she taught to play traditional music.
Molly from Limerick and her friend Anatasia, who is from Ukraine, met when Anatasia moved into her home earlier this year.
Anatasia impressed with her Irish language skills, before both children and Molly’s siblings were gifted Munster rugby jerseys and match tickets.
Emmie (12) from Dublin entertained the audience with her stand-up routine and the football fan was rewarded with a visit from Irish Women’s team, including captain Katie McCabe.
The Irish team are heading to the World Cup in Australia, and the Toy Show is sending Emmie and her family with.
As has become customer over the last three years, the Late Late Show once again ran its Toy Show Appeal this year.
The appeal was inspired by Galway national school pupil Saoirse Ruane, and it was the second time that the programme teamed with the banking app Revolut. Donations could be made through the “My Hub” section on the app and this year €3m was raised on the night, with more donations coming in.
The appeal has raised almost € 20m in the last three years.