Don’t be late for a Very Important Date! The Late Late Toy Show


I think I must have been around five years old. I know this because the two youngest siblings had not yet been born. I was lying in bed, dreaming my childish dreams when my father knocked on the door. He asked me to get up saying that he had a surprise and as I scrunched my face up to the light I heard him waking my sisters. The three of us walked to the sitting room where he wrapped a blanket around us and pushed the couch towards the fire. We were so small that we all fitted on one cushion of the couch while he sat next to us and turned on the television telling us we were in for a treat.


The credits rolled and we saw a studio packed with toys. We could not get over the amount of toys in one room. We nudged each other excitedly. Then Gay Byrne welcomed everyone, wearing his bright woolly jumper, to what would become the institution that is the Late Late Toy Show. For the next two hours we were mesmerised by the sheer spectacle of the show and the amount of fun everyone was having. We laughed whenever “Uncle Gay” had difficulty with the more technical toys. We were jealous of the extra talented child prodigies who played difficult pieces with great ease. We loved the special guests who demonstrated how toys worked, the games they played, the fun they had, while we chatted amongst ourselves about the toys we liked and wondered whether Santa would bring them for us.

The whole experience was added to by the treats our father brought to us every time an add break came on, having coke, taytos, chocolate and sweets that late in the evening was another first. When it was all over we plodded off to bed content and happy, dreaming of toys and of Christmas.

Uncle Gay

In the years that followed we grew older and wiser. Our childhood sense of wonder began to disappear. We still looked forward to the Late Late Toy Show, though it did not leave us with the same excitement as it did that first night over two decades ago. It still gave us a warm glow, no matter how much we pretended it didn’t.

Last night I asked my sister what she was doing for the weekend, she told me that her and her husband were putting down a big fire and staying in for the late late toy show. We’re celebrating ten years in business tonight so, I can’t do the same, though when the clock strikes 9:30, I’ll be thinking of all those children watching it.

The Late Late Toy show is an institution. It has seen Pat Kenny and now Ryan Tubridy as its presenters. They are faced with the same task that Gay Byrne faced years ago, that of moulding the minds of the young children who watch it.  That of creating a memory that will be remembered forever by the children (and adults, let’s face it! ) who watch it. For those few hours, there will be no talk of NAMA, or bank bonds or political squabbles and arguments. There will only be a sense of wonder at the world of possibilities, a sense that sometimes we all need to remind ourselves of from time to time.

So if you are tuning in this year, try to remember a more simple time in your life and enjoy it.

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3 Responses to “Don’t be late for a Very Important Date! The Late Late Toy Show”

  1. Lorna Says:

    Lovely blog post. I always let my two stay up to watch it and yes, we all put on our pjs and curl up under the duvet on the sofa with the fire lit and eat pizza and drink 7up. They are 8 and 6 now and love it, it is just not the same watching it the next day (as some parents do with their kids).
    Congrats on 10 years in business – great week to celebrate. I launched my new website last night – again a great week for Irish business to stand up and be counted 🙂

    • dorasbeag Says:

      Thanks Lorna, well done on your own website too! these are the kind of stories that we need! I’ll be watching the Late Late on Sunday! A few of us will be gathered together seeing as we can’t watch it tonight! Enjoy tonight!

  2. Greg Canty Says:

    What a terrific post by the fabulous Doreen otherwise known as Doras Beag !! – The Toy Show was definitely such a uniquely Irish institution .. its great that it still is magic to children and parents!

    Well done,


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