As a tribute to broadcasting great and Toy Show trailblazer Gay Byrne, we look back at some heartwarming moments, and stars of the future, from Toy Shows past.
Zig and Zag and Dustin soak Gay
Leave it to them! Amid shouts of "You in the Pound Shop jumper!" from Dustin, Gay welcomed his troika of toy testers to the show in 1991. Oddly enough, chaos ensued. Zig and Zag showed "Mr Byrne, Your Majesty" a number of dolls, before ungraciously drenching their host with The Super Soaker 50! A sodden Gay then turned to the audience and said: "It was probably the most amusing thing on the show, wasn't it?" They agreed, and his revenge was sweet - and soaking!
Samantha Mumba's star quality
The chart-topper of the future was more than ready for her close-up as a 12-year-old when the 1995 Toy Show reached peak jazz hands with the Billie Barry Kids' performance of Duke Ellington's I've Got to Be a Rug Cutter. Forget about hindsight - even then Samantha Mumba's star quality was obvious. Put simply, she stole the show, and a mere five years later she had sold over one million copies of her debut single Gotta Tell You.
The LEGO World Record Attempt
There was quite the block party in 1981 when Dún Laoghaire Shopping Centre was the location for an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest LEGO model in the world. "There seemed to be nine million kids involved in making this LEGO model," estimated Gay, and two of them, Eugene Downes and David Enright, joined Gay on the Toy Show after their endeavours. Sadly, the record remained "unsmashed", but the junior boffins were rewarded for their ingenuity (and, indeed, manners) with gifts from LEGO and Gay and the gang. The Toy Show itself was always built on moments like this.
Bosco gets notions (again)
The "almost as famous as you, Gay" Bosco rocked up to Studio Four in 1982 as demand for Bosco dolls (made in Strokestown, Co Roscommon) hit festive fever pitch. "I think the nicest toy of all is me," said a modest Bosco. And the high-pitched guff kept coming. "Is it hard to 'do' you, Bosco?" asked Gay on the subject of impressions. "Well, Gay, I think it's as hard to 'do' me as it is to 'do' you," was the reply. Bosco then revealed he had his eye on Gay's gig with The Late Late Bosco Show. "Let me think about that for a while," said a dubious Gay, before adding: "But you'll be in your box for Christmas, will you?" Talk about putting a guest back in their box!
Imelda May's Late Late debut
"We start with a charming group from The Liberties in Dublin," said Gay on the 1986 Toy Show. "They are winners of the Young Entertainers Competition three years in succession." Among them was star of the future Imelda May (on the right below, holding the lantern), who showed her ability to hold a tune with a cover of Boney M's Mary's Boy Child. Twenty-three years later Imelda May would be back as a solo artist in her own right. As the song says, it started on the Late Late Show!
Watch The Late Late Toy Show on RTÉ One on November 29 at 9.35pm, and from anywhere in the world with RTÉ Player.