RTÉ’s Ryan Tubridy pictured at the Athlone auditions for The Late Late Toy Show.Andrea Duncan Photography

No matter where you are this Christmas RTE Player International will be bringing you a little bit of home starting with the renowned Late Late Toy Show with Ryan Tubridy airing first on Friday.

This November, Penneys, aka Primark, and RTÉ are delighted to release their limited edition Late Late Toy Show jumpers and pyjama sets, in aid of Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

There’s one for everyone in the audience both in the studio and at home, as The Late Late Toy Show pieces will be available in Penneys stores all over Ireland, along with the RTÉ Shop, just in time for the nation’s most treasured night in front of the TV – Friday, 27th November.

Shoppers wanting to support this great cause can get their hands on novelty jumpers (adults - $21 (€20), boys and girls - $16 (€15)) or fun pyjamas (women’s - $15 (€14), men’s - $16 (€15), boys and girls – $11 (€10)) featuring the iconic Late Late Toy Show Owl, getting you and your family into the festive spirit as the Christmas season kicks off with The Late Late Toy Show.

With $3 (€2) from every sale of each item going towards Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Penneys Late Late Toy Show jumpers are a great way to support a fantastic charity and create a memorable night of TV entertainment with photo opportunities galore for you and your loved ones this Christmas.

Speaking about the collaboration, CEO of the Temple Street Foundation Denise Fitzgerald, said, “We are thrilled and hugely grateful to be part of The Late Late Toy Show excitement as Penneys launch their festive jumpers and pyjama sets in aid of Temple Street. The Toy Show is a beloved national institution and many of our little patients will be watching from their hospital beds on 27th November. We are so grateful to RTÉ and Penneys for choosing us. All funds raised will go directly towards making life better for Temple Street’s patients and their families.”

The Late Late Toy Show Christmas jumper and pyjama collection is now available to Toy Show fans at home and abroad through the RTÉ Shop www.rte.ie/shop and is available now in Penneys stores nationwide.

No matter where you are in the world this year you can tune in and what the Late Late Toy Show on the RTÉ Player International.

Here’s Ryan promoting this year’s show a few weeks back:

RTÉ caught up with Ryan Tubridy ahead of the big day. Here’s a Q & A with the man himself:

What is it that makes The Late Late Toy Show so special?

If you don’t believe in magic, you will on the day of the Toy Show. The reason I say that is because that is exactly what it feels like when you are in studio – it is magical and when you see the faces on the kids when they arrive in, it is the closest you will get to seeing Charlie Bucket coming through the factory gates. It is otherworldly in its loveliness.

Is it a daunting task to present The Late Late Toy Show?

It is a joy to present because there are no rules really - just don’t leave the studio! The studio becomes a bizarre playroom. You are told for the opening to sing and dance, and that is the hardest part of the show because I am not co-ordinated and I can do neither! But once that bit is over, the fun starts and the cameras follow you. There is only so much you can rehearse because then the kids take over.

How much preparation goes into the Toy Show?

Enormous, it is a military operation that is run from a barracks which we call the Toy Show Cabin backstage by a small but diligent army. To use a sporting analogy, they set up the goal and they run around the pitch and I just sit on the goal line and nod the ball in. There is a big team behind the scenes making it all work.

How do you get the best out of the kids on the show?

First and foremost is that you get down on your hunkers and eyeball children, you never stand up like the BFG pointing a big bony finger in their face and telling them to sit down. You don’t patronise them, you talk to them like fun-sized adults. Go dark with your humour, kids are very dark which is great fun – bold stuff – and, finally, don’t have any respect for authority but don’t be rude. It’s a fine line, you are not going in saying ‘tell your teachers to take a hike’ but you tend to be at the back of the class with them rather than be up the front.

Do you feel pressure to make the Toy Show bigger and better each year?

I take every Toy Show on a year-by-year basis and as soon as that light goes on to say that you are in the people’s homes, I just get stuck in and to hell with the consequences. It is very gratifying to know that a lot of people watch it but that is not the reason I present it, that is just an off-shoot of it.

Ryan Tubridy getting into the spirit of things.

Ryan Tubridy getting into the spirit of things.

What can we expect from this year’s show?

I am not going to tell you what it is going to be but I can tell you that it will be a musical, from a book at one point and a movie as well that may or may not be live action or animated. It will be something familiar to everyone watching and will not be as old as the previous couple of years but it is an old story. I think that it is bright and classic. They are hatching a plan or two but all I will say is that I think book lovers will be excited. The magic of The Toy Show – the thing that makes it really work - is that it’s really about the kids. But, of course, we’ve had some very big names in the studio over the past few years. I think most people will remember when Ed Sheeran surprised Aimee Keogh. She genuinely had no idea what was in store for her and her reaction was just lovely. He was really great with her as well and he seemed to embrace the madness of the Toy Show wholeheartedly.

You travelled around the country this year with The Late Late Toy Show auditions. How were they?

We had the most amazing reception everywhere we went. We have buckets of talent in this country and we found some real gems. The idea was to meet the children on their home turf – to take the show to them – so that they would be relaxed and at their best and it worked.

What’s been your favourite Toy show memory to date?

I think sometimes it is the moment when Robbie Keane comes out and sees Domhnall and Domhnall cannot talk. That is special. And so is Ed Sheeran talking to Aimee and the warmth that people talk about afterwards, that was extraordinary. Anything that involves that gorgeous warmth. Even a small memory, I think it was my first Toy Show and one of the kids was doing a toy demonstration and their nose was running. I had a tissue and I wiped the nose clean because her dignity was under attack. It was a tiny gesture that I would do as a father to my kids and that was the moment I thought: “this is what I should be doing”. It felt like I took ownership of it then. If you can wipe a kid’s nose because it is snotty on a live TV show with toys, you are okay.

What was the best toy you were ever given as a child?

I was a Buckaroo man until the nerves got me. I found it quite tense! Then I found this chronicle of the 20th century, this book that I got lost in which treated the big days in history as journalistic reports with photographs. I just fell in love with it. It was a big, thick book and I was lost in it. It was like being in a time machine for Christmas week, I fell in love with history and the past and pop culture, The Beatles, Kennedy and Elvis, World War II and Vietnam and it went right up to the day that I got the present in about 1986 or 1987. It’s not a toy but in my world it’s the same thing.

Every year, your jumper is a big talking point of the show. What will you be wearing this year?

I have tried on a few. There is one in particular that has caught my eye that involves a little bit of modern technology and a regular wool jumper. I won’t say more because the whole point of this show is meant to be that there will be elements of surprise so watch and be amazed!

There are a lot of Irish people living abroad who watch the Toy Show every year on the RTÉ Player. Why do you think that is?

There is a whole generation of people who are in their early 20s who are in Brisbane, Boston or Brighton and they can sit back on the night of the Toy Show and wistfully glance across the shores at a show that was so much a part, I hope, of their childhood. They can explain to their friends from Australia, America, Canada and Britain, what the hell is going on and, hopefully, they will get a taste of the magic and a taste of home.

Watch The Late Late Toy Show on Friday, November 27th from anywhere in the world, live or on-demand with the RTÉ Player International App (iPhone/iPad) or with the RTÉ Player (Desktop/Android).

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