Ryan Tubridy has described the set for this year's Late Late Toy Show as a "mind-blowing, head-melt of a dreamland for readers and fans of imagination and childhood and dreamers and outliers and weirdos like me who just needed somewhere to go". 

The gorgeous setting for the biggest television night of 2020 was unveiled early on Friday morning and celebrates the world of Roald Dahl. It was created by the RTÉ Production Design Department, led by Marcella Power. 

"The set for this is like they crawled inside my head one night and said, 'Oh, so that's where you are!'" laughed the host.  

"I wish it was my idea, but I think that the people behind the scenes said, 'Ok, let's make him happy this year and we'll bring him to the happy place'. [Laughs] For me, the happy place is books and Roald Dahl and childhood.

"I think Roald Dahl is the perfect choice, actually, because the world isn't simple and the world isn't a fairytale. The world is magical, and the world rewards goodness and kindness and beautiful children. In the middle of a pandemic, Roald Dahl is the perfect choice because he gets it. Roald Dahl always understood that children were beautiful and adults should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis!"

RTÉ's Costume and Make-Up departments, with costume led by Brigette Horan, have also been putting their finishing touches to the extravaganza, and the dancers on this year's Late Late Toy Show come from Spotlight Stage School, with choreography from Stuart O'Connor.

"You'll see in the opening number we've chosen a song that has nothing to do with the movies," teased the MC. "No princesses were harmed in the making of this opening! And no Disney movie was harmed in the choosing of the song!

"There's a second song-and-dance number, God help you all. There's another beautiful piece from around the world, which I found very moving. But, by and large, it's live in studio with kids from all over the country. 

"I'll be two characters in the opening number. I'll be another character in the song in the middle. I have four jumpers lined up for the show itself. I have some shirts, cardigans as options. So yes; it's a deeply unsettling experience sartorially." 

It is a Toy Show tradition that children from LauraLynn, The Jack & Jill Children's Foundation, CHI at Temple Street and CHI at Crumlin are invited to come and visit the set for a magical afternoon. As Covid-19 restrictions have prevented this from happening in 2020, some children from Crumlin, Temple Street, Jack & Jill and LauraLynn will take part in a special performance on the show, filmed remotely.

Toys have been sent in from toy retailers all around the country. The toys demoed by the children and made by "heaps" of Irish businesses will be donated to charities across the country in time for Christmas.

Fans can, of course, also expect some celebrity guests on the night, but we'll leave it to the host to perfectly sum up the Toy Show spirit. 

"Sometimes, the biggest stars in a child's life have never been on TV or radio or movies in their lives."

The Late Late Toy Show, Friday, RTÉ One, RTÉ Player and with ISL on the RTÉ News channel, 9:35pm

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