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Since it first hit our screens in 1975, watching the Late Late Toy Show has become an Irish Christmas tradition. Its enduing presence makes the viewing of the show an annual event in most Irish homes. The show began as a half-hour slot at the end of ‘The Late Late Show’, designed to give parents an idea of what toys were in the shops for Christmas while their children were supposed to be asleep in bed. It soon became a one-night show in its own right, complete with children toy-testers and performers.
‘The Late Late Show’ was first presented by Gay Byrne. Pat Kenny replaced Gay Byrne as presenter in 1999 and remained in that position for 10 years. Ryan Tubridy took over in 2009.
The reach of the show is incomparable. For the last number years of the show close to three quarters of the available viewing audience have tuned in. It is a prime example of how TV can bring people together and create strong cultural and emotional ties between people. The reactions that the show triggers on social media is also astonishing-the 2019 show was widely lauded on social media with #LateLateToyShow trending number one worldwide on Twitter on the night of the show.
The most interesting stat is that even with media fragmentation and huge changes in viewing behaviour (over the past 5 years in particular) viewing to the show on a TV set has remained solid. In fact the number of individuals watching increased by 11% when you compare the 2019 show to the 2009 show.
The Toy Show is now more than being about about any one person or any one TV station-its an Irish institution. In a year with many changes, the Toy Show will have no audience and the children who are participating will need to adhere to social distancing rules. Presenter Ryan Tubridy said they’ll acknowledge the pandemic on the show, but do it with “a twist of seasonal silliness”. This year’s theme is ‘The Wonderful World of Roald Dahl’, who is the author of books like Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, the Twits and Fantastic Mr Fox. The show will be broadcast at 9.35pm on RTE 1 on Friday 27th November.
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