Follow the yellow brick road: Late Late Toy Show scores with star appearances

Follow The Yellow Brick Road: Late Late Toy Show Scores With Star Appearances Follow The Yellow Brick Road: Late Late Toy Show Scores With Star Appearances
Ryan Tubridy is pictured with performers on this year’s Late Late Toy Show. Photo: Andres Poveda/RTÉ
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It's that time again: The Late Late Toy Show is back, and this year it was all about following the yellow brick road.

The theme for RTÉ's highly-anticipated showpiece programme was the classic film The Wizard of Oz.

At times the show also delivered a nod to Match of the Day.

A guest appearance by members of the Irish women’s World Cup squad combined with a surprise trip to Australia for a tearful 12-year-old avid fan – and her parents – was a show highlight.

But arguably the star attraction was Caoimhin Kelleher, Liverpool and Republic of Ireland goalkeeper, who made an appearance before the end of part one — where he surprised young Liverpool superfan Cealan, and gifted him a trip to Anfield, and a signed replica jersey.

Lucy (6) from Galway was the first toy demonstrator of the night — when she grows up, she wants to be a singing vet. Fittingly, she's treated audiences to a rendition of Taylor Swift's 'Shake It Off'.

Billy from Kildare — sporting a "business at the front, party at the back" mullet — told host Ryan Tubridy that he wants to be a Garda when he grows up. His aunt is a guard, and he's "very inspired by it".

"I want to arrest people," Bill chirped, before getting in his mini squad car.

"There is no place like home," Tubridy said to start the show, after an opening performance of "We're Off to See the Wizard". The host joined the ensemble as Scarecrow.

RTÉ teased a few details in the run-up to Friday's programme – "escapism, love, courage, friendship and unity" ran through the night's proceedings.

Prior to the big event, Tubridy said he couldn't remember the last time he was so excited for a Toy Show.

"It is the thing that is close to the hearts of everyone who will be watching. Every age group, every generation, people will know from every walk of life where exactly we are going when we see the set up on Friday night.

"I promised we will be going home. I promised we will be talking more about Christmas, I promised we will get back to basics and when people see that opening, people will know exactly what I am talking about.

"Wherever they are, this is for them, they deserve it. I look forward to everyone’s company immensely."

Ryan Tubridy with performers Deborah Addeji (7) from Navan and Louis Hanna (5) from Artane as this year’s Toy Show theme is revealed as The Wizard Of Oz. Photo: Andres Poveda

RTÉ said this year’s Toy Show will see a huge cast with more than 200 young performers and talented toy testers taking part. The children hail from all over Ireland with the youngest aged just four years old.

The first Late Late Toy Show was in 1975, when it was a half-hour segment presented by Gay Byrne to help parents stumped as to what to buy their kids for Christmas.

It has grown and grown and is now one of the biggest dates in Irish broadcasting, with 1.8 million tuning in live in 2021 – a staggering 81 per cent of people watching at the time, and a big jump even over 2020, when 1.5 million people, or 59 per cent of the available audience, tuned in live.

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