Finalists announced for BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show’s 500 Words

The stories that have made it through to the final round of BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show’s 500 Words have been revealed!
All 56 of them have been narrated and are now available to read and listen to on the 500 Words Website.

Over 134,700 entries were submitted this year, meaning over one million stories have been entered since Chris Evans created and launched the competition in 2011, making it the largest database of children’s writing in the world.

Zoe Ball said: “In such strange and difficult times, it has been an absolute joy to read the hilarious, super inventive and often very moving stories cooked up by brilliant young writers up and down the country. I’m delighted that the Great British public now has the opportunity to enjoy the very best stories which have been beautifully narrated by professional actors. What a treat!”

Judging of the finalists’ stories takes place today (Tuesday 12 May), with Zoe Ball welcoming honorary judge HRH The Duchess of Cornwall; chair of the judging panel Chris Evans; and award-winning authors Malorie Blackman, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Charlie Higson and Francesca Simon in a virtual judging session where they will decide the six winners: Gold, Silver and Bronze in each of the age categories (five to nine and 10-13 years).

Of the stories that made it through to this final stage, 31 were written by girls and 25 by boys. The finalists come from Bristol, Buckinghamshire, Cheshire, Conwy, Cornwall, Derbyshire, East Sussex, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, Merseyside, Northamptonshire, North Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, Pembrokeshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Tyne & Wear, Warwickshire, West Midlands, West Sussex, West Yorkshire, and Worcestershire.

Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the final at Buckingham Palace will unfortunately be unable to take place as planned. However, details of the virtual final will be announced shortly.

The six winners will be announced on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show on Friday 12 June and their stories read out on air by superstar narrators. In previous years, narrators of the winning stories have included Amanda Abbington, Jenny Agutter, Hugh Bonneville, Jim Broadbent, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paloma Faith, Tom Hiddleston, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCrory, Michael Sheen, David Suchet, Sandi Toksvig, David Walliams and Julie Walters.

Each of the children will also receive illustrations of their tale from a top children’s illustrator – with Tony Ross, Margaret Sturton, David Roberts, Sue Cheung, Fiona Lumbers and Axel Scheffler all taking part.

Zoe launched this year’s competition at Four Oaks Primary in Liverpool, where children from the school joined her on air for a very special live outside broadcast on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Breakfast. The competition closed on 27 February. All the entries were read by a team of volunteer teachers and librarians from around the UK before the list was whittled down by The Reading Agency to decide the Top 50. An additional six wildcards were chosen for their extraordinary creativity and imagination.

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