Depending on your age and mileage, the 'Late Late Toy Show' you grew up with is markedly different to what we're seeing these days.
The excitement is there, of course, and all of Ireland is going to be on Twitter trying to outsmart and outfunny everyone. But in recent years, what's been fascinating to observe is how the 'Late Late Toy Show' has gone from a live-action catalogue of toys to a healing moment for the nation.
This year has taken a lot from us all. Be it job security, the warmth and presence of friends, our hobbies and our social lives, or in other circumstances, the passing of loved ones, we are all hurting in some way. Can a live TV show heal us? Maybe, maybe not. But it can certainly make us feel better and be of comfort.
Throughout the show, the toys themselves were rarely the focus. There was no mention of the PS5, the Xbox Series X, nor were any of the toys name-checked along with where you could buy them. It was a subtle move by the producers; recognising that everyone watching is most likely in a state of precarity. Seeing the latest toys blasted across the screen by Billie Barry kids (sorry, but come on) wasn't going to help anyone.
Such a special moment for the wonderful Adam and the main man John Doyle, Head Porter in @templestreethos. We're SO proud to work alongside our wonderful friend who brings kindness and joy to sick children every single day in his work! #templestreetheroes #LateLateToyShow pic.twitter.com/KqOJTRT0FT
— Children's Health Foundation Temple Street (@Temple_Street) November 27, 2020
Instead, the focus is placed on the children.
Yes, we've all faced adversity this year, but for many of these children, they were born into it and know it every day - yet still keep their wonder and innocence about them. The gift to the audience isn't in the funny moments (Ryan Tubridy cursing as he spills a drink, a child going off script) but in the knowledge that adversity can be met with laughter, joy, and good cheer.
The celebrity moments weren't even needed, though Dermot Kennedy's appearance was a touching moment. No, the real celebrity moment came when Adam - who made a sign to hold up for virtual hugs - met his favourite hospital porter, John Doyle. He wasn't a singer, he wasn't an actor or a celebrity.
Adam's glee and excitement was for a decent, everyday man and a friend he made while in hospital. No celebrity encounter could even hope to have the same impact.
I’m happy for this child but also happy for Dermot Kennedy, you properly know you’ve made it when you get to surprise a child on the Toy Show #LateLateToyShow
— Michael Fry (@BigDirtyFry) November 27, 2020
Per aspera ad Astra, Adam. Keep looking to the stars young man. In the meantime, we'll reach out to our friends @NASA & see if they can't help bring your dreams a little closer. pic.twitter.com/DqRZwdziDQ
— Embassy of Ireland USA (@IrelandEmbUSA) November 27, 2020
What's perhaps most emotional about this year's show is that it had to be done under the cloud of the pandemic. People are exhausted, they're scared, we are all aching for something to alleviate the cloud over us in some way. And last night's 'Late Late Toy Show' did something for us all. It was kind.
It gave everyone watching a chance to experience kindness and tenderness through a screen. In lieu of the usual audience competition, Tubridy gently asked for people to donate to their appeal if they were able, quickly moving on to the next item. By the end of the show, just two and a half hours later, the appeal's website had almost been overloaded with people trying to donate.
As of writing, the appeal raised €5.2 million, with half of the money going to Barnardos, Children's Health Foundation and Children's Books Ireland and the other half to the Community Foundation.
It's said that kindness gives birth to kindness. That happened last night. We all saw it.