Having began as a half-hour slot of Christmas gift ideas in 1975, The Late Late Toy Show has gradually transformed itself to become a late night extravaganza of laughs and tears, featuring guests and stories that reflects the world of children in Ireland today.

In 2017, the annual show broached the subject of homelessness; in 2018, the theme of The Greatest Showman was chosen to encourage inclusiveness; in 2019 toy tester Sophia Maher had the country in tears as she shared her message about bullying; and in 2020 viewers were introduced to an incredible group of children, all persevering through the pandemic.

As for this year? No now one knows what kind of magic the Toy Show will bring, not even the Toy Man himself.

"I don't know what it is, I don't know what this show brings to people," muses Tubridy. "We were talking about it on the radio this morning and the amount of messages we were getting in... they weren't even talking about a show, they were talking about emotion."

"This thing has become an emotional moment for families to remember people they used to watch the show with, people they are watching the show with, people they wish they watching the show with. It's just become one of the last refuges of terrestrial television where people actually sit down on the couch without their phones for a couple of hours and talk to each other and comment on the show.

"That's become a rarity and I hope it's a good thing."

RTÉ Toy Show Appeal
Inspired by the children of Ireland, the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal was launched to bring the magic of the Toy Show to every child in Ireland.

Last year, inspired by the incredible generosity of toy tester Saoirse Ruane, there was an overwhelming audience response to the the call to donate and over the course of the weekend over €6.6 million was raised to help a range of children's charities right across the island of Ireland.

All in all, Tubridy says he was "flabbergasted" by the generosity of the Irish people in 2020:

"That was an amazing moment for me, personally, and for us as a programme. We just didn't know. If we had raised €10k or €100k that night we would have been pretty pleased. It was six and a half million from Irish people in the course of an hour and a half watching kids and toys and music and so on."

"I think that was a beautiful story last year and it's impactful," he continues. "It stopped being just a TV show, it became a lifeblood for a lot of charities around the country, for children. It was a very good news story thanks to the viewers."

Donations for this year's appeal can be made via www.rte.ie/toyshowappeal.

This year, as well as singing and dancing his heart out, our energetic host will continue to champion local toy and book shops, as he has for much of the pandemic.

Toys for this year's show have kindly been sent in from toy retailers all around the country, and the toys demoed by children on night will be donated to charities across the country.

In return, Tubridy hopes that the show will inspire viewers to shop local when it comes to their Christmas shopping.

"Since the pandemic began, there's been a big struggle for Irish businesses to stay alive and stay busy. From the get-go that's been something very close to my heart whether its the independent bookshops or the toy shops."

"Every village in Ireland generally has a book shop or a toy shop, used to have a post office, whatever it might be - and they're the heartbeat of the community. If they're gone, where do people go to meet somebody else, to come up with ideas and to keep the community's story alive?"

"It's really awful so what we've got to is - yes, I know it's convenient sometimes, and yes, I understand that sometimes it's a little cheaper to buy online, but if you can - to keep the shops and the family businesses that have been there for decades and decades going."

A list of the toys featured on tonight's will be available on www.rte.ie/lifestyle following broadcast.