Chris Evans announces return of kids' short story comp

From a press release to
Posted 19 January 2015, 4.01am est

BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans today announced that children’s’ short story writing competition 500 WORDS is set to return for 2015.

This year’s competition will be bigger and better than ever, as the Radio 2 Breakfast Show presenter unveiled that Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, will support 500 WORDS, in a bid to help find the UK’s most talented young writers, with the final of the competition taking place at St James's Palace in May 2015.

To mark the launch of the competition, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall will also attend a special 500 WORDS Story Laboratory in Weston Park Primary School, London on Wednesday 21 January.

The All Star Story Laboratory will be recorded and made available on the 500 WORDS website from 8.15am on Thursday 22 January. Children, parents and teachers across the country will be able to watch the video and hear top tips from three of this year’s competition judges - Frank Cottrell Boyce, Malorie Blackman and Francesca Simon.

As part of the competition, entrants aged 13 and under have to compose an original work of fiction no longer than 500 words. Hopeful entrants should apply via the Radio 2 website. The writers of the top 50 stories will be invited to attend a broadcast of The Chris Evans Breakfast Show that will be broadcast live on Friday 29 May, 2015 from St James’s Palace.

The six lucky winners will be announced live on air and will get to hear their stories read out by a famous narrator. Last year saw names including Sherlock himself Benedict Cumberbatch, Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville and Paloma Faith take part.

The strict deadline for submitting entries is February 26 at 7pm. Entries submitted after this will not be accepted. Full terms and conditions.

The competition launch was accompanied by a star-studded video jam-packed with famous faces - including Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Tom Daley, Hugh Bonneville, Gary Lineker, Rebecca Adlington, Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly as well as a host of news readers from across the UK. The video will be on the 500 WORDS website.

The judging panel for 2015 includes head judge Richard Hammond, the highly-acclaimed author of the Horrid Henry series, Francesca Simon, best-selling authors Charlie Higson, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman.

Last year’s competition received nearly 120,000 entries as budding young writers across the UK put pen to paper. With stories featuring words such as ‘flood’, ‘Lego’ and ‘Minecraft’, entrants took inspiration from and reflected on current affairs, sporting events, celebrities, popular films and games, in a bid to wow the judging panel.

With the help of Oxford University Press, the analysis of the 50 million words contained in last year’s entries provided an illuminating snapshot of how children use language and the popular culture and trends prevalent in their generation. The word ‘minion’ from film Despicable Me 2 was crowned ‘Word of the Year’, while ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis’, the longest word featured, at an impressive 45 letters long, got the attention of the judges. A selection of the more unusual words featured included ‘blatherskite’, ‘furfuraceous’ and ‘tintinnabulation’, highlighting the entrants with more loquacious tendencies, while invented words ‘historytestaphobia’ and ‘Bestasaurus’ failed to fool the judges but impressed with their imaginative, creative adaption of the English language.

This year, OUP will be looking for trends that have emerged over the last three years of analysis including the area of literary influences, technology and culture.

Chris Evans said:

“500 WORDS is back back BACK, and as much as last year’s competition was undeniably off the charts with nearly 120,000 entries; this year to mark our fabulous fifth anniversary we wanted to do something super special. So we couldn’t believe our luck when HRH the Duchess of Cornwall invited us to hold our live on-air final in the stunning surroundings of St James’s Palace. She's a supporter of the competition and cannot wait to meet and greet this year's fifty finalists on the day. Kids of the UK - if you’d like to hang out with real-life royalty - 500 WORDS 2015 is open for business! Get writing and get in the mix, by Royal Appointment.”

Bob Shennan, Controller BBC Radio 2, 6 Music and Director of BBC Music, said:

“We are honoured to have Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall lend her support to this fantastic initiative. 500 WORDS continues to grow from strength to strength, encouraging and inspiring children across the country to tap into their imagination and get writing. I can’t wait to get reading!”

Vineeta Gupta, Head of Children’s Dictionaries, Oxford University Press said:

“Each year we are fascinated by new and imaginative ways in which children use language. We will be working with the University of Oxford to analyse this year’s stories to gain further insights into the use of language by children across the UK.”

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