The BBC is delighted to announce the return of the popular UK-wide children’s writing competition 500 Words, which was first launched by Chris Evans on Radio 2’s breakfast show in 2011 and continued with his successor Zoe Ball until 2020. The competition will be supported again by the Queen Consort and is set to relaunch this September.
Charlotte Moore, BBC’s chief content officer, said that the corporation was “thrilled” to bring back the competition, which she believes will “help discover a range of young authors with big imaginations”. 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.”
When it ran previously, 500 Words 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. To ensure its success this time around, 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 of the competition will take place a year from now, on World Book Day 2024. It will include the 50 best entries from two different age categories – children aged five to seven, and eight to 11 – and will be held at one of the previous locations for the final: Windsor Castle, Hampton Court or 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.
The BBC is encouraging teachers and librarians across the UK to get involved in this chance to help find the writers of tomorrow. For more information on engaging with 500 Words, visit BBC Teach.