500 Words: BBC Breakfast to relaunch children’s writing competitionon March 2, 2023 at 12:48 am

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500 Words is set to return this year, with the backing of the Queen Consort and Sir Lenny Henry.

Jon Kay

BBC Breakfast is to relaunch the children’s writing competition 500 Words, three years after it was dropped from Radio 2.

First launched by Chris Evans on Radio 2’s breakfast show in 2011, the popular UK-wide competition continued with his successor Zoe Ball until 2020.

It will return this September, supported again by the Queen Consort.

The BBC’s chief content officer, Charlotte Moore, said the corporation was “thrilled” to announce its return.

She added the contest would “help discover a range of young authors with big imaginations”.

“It is fantastic that the competition will be supported by the Queen Consort and we do hope teachers and librarians across the UK will get involved in this chance to help find the writers of tomorrow,” Moore said.

BBC Breakfast presenter Jon Kay added: “We are delighted to be championing 500 Words and look forward to the no doubt stellar entries from talented, aspiring young writers up and down the country that are sure to follow in due course.”

Radio 2 breakfast host Zoe Ball with her predecessor Chris Evans and the Queen Consort

Image source, Getty Images

Sir Lenny Henry

Image source, Getty Images

Speaking on his Virgin Radio show in the summer of 2020, Evans said it was “a real shame” that his former employer had brought the creative writing competition to a close.

Up until then, it had has received more than one million stories written by children, generating more than 440 million words; and at one stage brought keen reader Camilla to tears.

Now that it’s back, teachers and librarians are being invited to join the 2023 judging panel alongside World Book Day ambassador Sir Lenny Henry – who will also read a CBeebies Bedtime Story for the occasion.

Other judges include best-selling authors Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Francesca Simon, Charlie Higson and the former children’s laureate Malorie Blackman.

The grand final, which will include the 50 best entries from two different age categories – children aged five to seven, and eight to 11 – will take place a year from now, on World Book Day 2024.

Previous locations for the final have been Windsor Castle, Hampton Court and the Tower of London.

The winning stories will be read out by star names, with past narrators including Dua Lipa, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jodie Whittaker.

For more information on engaging with 500 Words visit BBC Teach.

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