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Ryan Tubridy tells Oireachtas committee he had 'nothing to do' with Toy Show The Musical

Tubridy and his agent Noel Kelly are today appearing before two Oireachtas committees today.

LAST UPDATE | 11 Jul 2023

RYAN TUBRIDY HAS said he had “nothing to do with” the Toy Show The Musical project. 

Tubridy and his agent Noel Kelly appeared before the Public Accounts Oireachtas committee this morning over RTÉ’s failure to disclose €345,000 worth of payments to the presenter.

Tubridy and Kelly told the committee that the idea of putting on a Toy Show Live production never went anywhere and was not related to the Toy Show Musical.

Tubridy said that because of the nature of his job, he was not interested in being involved with the musical production. 

“They came up with a very ambitious thing to do and given the nature of my job, there was no way I was going to be in a position to get involved. So I wished them well. 

“Anytime I was asked about the musical I always wished them well, I had no ill will towards them,” he told the committee.

When asked in the committee whether he was aware if there were staff members from the Late Late Show seconded to work directly on the Toy Show The Musical, be it production staff or other personnel from RTÉ, Tubridy said the project was “something I have nothing to do with”. 

“I think it’s only fair to say that you should put those questions to people in RTÉ about that,” he said. 

Tubridy said that there may have been people working in parallel but that seconded is “probably too strong a word”.

Later in the hearing, Alan Kelly labelled the Toy Show musical an “unmitigated disaster”. 

Tubridy said “people in our team were trying to dream big”. 

But he added: “I always wish them well with that, but it wasn’t for me.” 

In briefing documents provided to the Oireachtas today from Tubridy and Kelly, a letter to then-director general Dee Forbes and then-chief financial officer Breda O’Keeffe in January 2020 shows Kelly outlined that there was a “need to discuss commercial rights for the Late Late Toy Show separately” to discussions that were had. 

In a letter to O’Keeffe on 19 February, with others including Fobes and Jim Jennings CC’d, Kelly said that “as agreed, we look forward to discussing” the Late Late Toy Show Live “in more detail as another commercial arrangement”. 

In response to this on 20 February, O’Keeffe said: “Agreed – should the project progress further we will discuss as a separate arrangement to this contract.” 

It was confirmed in email on 28 February 2020, addressed to Forbes, that this had been discussed that morning and that a separate note had been sent to Forbes. 

RTÉ last week provided documents detailing the financial impact of last year’s Toy Show The Musical project ahead of the Oireachtas committee meetings.

Documents seen by The Journal revealed that the inaugural Toy Show musical last year made just €495,961 in revenue against costs of €2,699,193. In total, the project made a loss of €2,203,231.

The musical was based on the annual Late Late Toy Show and was billed as one girl’s own Toy Show adventure.

Tickets were priced from €25. 

RTÉ’s economic forecast for the second quarter of 2022 and had factored revenue from the event as being worth €3.215 million, based on the assumption that 83.75% of tickets would be sold across 54 shows.

Meeting this target would have required selling over 90,000 tickets.

In the end, RTÉ sold just 11,044 tickets across 27 performances (as half of the shows ended up being cancelled), the documents show.

Comp and guest tickets made up 5,573 total audience members, while competition winners made up a further 3,645.

Including RTÉ guests, free tickets, and competition winners, Toy Show The Musical managed to fill just 41% of the available capacity of the Convention Centre.

At the time, RTÉ reported that cancellations were due to illness among the cast and crew and RTÉ said the team did “everything possible” to avoid cancellations. 

These cancellations ended up forcing refunds worth €251,000. 

In a statement issued last Wednesday, Minister for Media Catherine Martin said that Chair of the RTÉ Board Siún Ní Raghallaigh had “confirmed they will initiate a further Grant Thornton investigation of the Toy Show the Musical”.

The production was also criticised at the time for having an unfair advantage over smaller pantomime shows, which were largely cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last December, the Dáil’s spending watchdog asked RTÉ to clarify how much money had been spent on the musical

Speaking at the time, the chair of the Public Accounts Committee Brian Stanley said the financial risks involved with the musical appeared to “be too high”. 

Stanley added: “On the face of it, it appears that proper market research was not done. There were empty seats and shows being cancelled.”

RTÉ had defended the production, with director of strategy Rory Coveney stating in December that while he was disappointed with ticket sales for the show, he hoped it would be a “longer term investment”.

Coveney announced on Sunday that he was stepping down with immediate effect

With reporting by Carl Kinsella and Christina Finn. 

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