RTÉ’s Late Late Toy Show is one of those Irish traditions that people who aren’t from here scratch their heads over intially but then get into as soon as they begin watching. I started watching at the latter end of the Gay Byrne era but I find the whole Pat Kenny experience somewhat irritating. He’s not fatherly, avuncular or remotely Santa-like in his dealings with the children, and watching him (not) deal with the Top Gear team on last week’s ‘spectacular’ was (with apologies to Richard Hammond) a bit of a car crash.
Still, you can’t argue with tradition; so many people who are now parents remember the excitement of that special Friday, staying up late with a snack and feasting their eyes on all the toys they probably weren’t getting, and naturally they want their kids to experience the same buzz. A colleague’s 3-year-old daughter was promised all last week that she could stay up to watch, and her mother duly sat her down with a goodie bag in front of the telly, all prepared for the delights to follow. On to the screen comes Pat Kenny to welcome all to the Toy Show. “Is this it?” asks the youngster. “Yes,” replies her mother. “I don’t like him,” groans the wee one. “I want to go to bed.” Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.