Zoe Ball launches BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show’s 500 Words 2020 in Liverpool


BBC Radio 2

BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show’s 500 Words 2020 launches today with Zoe Ball broadcasting live from a school in Liverpool as the children’s short-story writing competition celebrates its tenth anniversary, since it was first created and launched by Chris Evans in 2011.

The live final will take place at Buckingham Palace on Friday 12 June and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall once again returns as an Honorary Judge.

The short-story writing competition for children aged five to 13 years old was declared open for entries by Zoe Ball this morning with a special outside broadcast of the Breakfast Show from Four Oaks Primary school in Liverpool where pupils joined her live on air. To take part, children are asked to compose an original work of fiction using no more than 500 words. Entries are split into two age categories: 5-9 years and 10-13 years. Full details are at www.bbc.co.uk/500words where children will find an array of tools to help and inspire them. The closing date is 8pm on Thursday 27 February.

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of Her Majesty The Queen. Home to the country’s sovereigns since 1837, and has hosted some of the most significant figures in modern British history.

Zoe Ball says: “I’m so excited to be launching the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show’s amazing 500 Words competition again this year, particularly as we’re celebrating its tenth anniversary! Oh and we have an unbelievably special venue for our live final this year - we’ve been given the keys to Buckingham Palace! If you want to come and join us there, then please do encourage all the superstar children you know aged five to 13 years old to get creative, put pen to paper, and send in their fabulous story - it could be them mixing it with royalty and having their story read by a celeb on 12 June!”

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2, says: “BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show’s 500 Words was first launched by Chris Evans in 2011 and since then, over 930 000 children have taken part. Ten years later, we’re hoping to surpass one million entries which will be a phenomenal achievement. I’m incredibly proud of this initiative and want to thank all the Radio 2 listeners who encourage children to take part.”

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall first supported 500 Words in 2015 and has been an Honorary judge since 2016 alongside the judging panel of award-winning authors - Malorie Blackman, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Charlie Higson and Francesca Simon. Chair of the Judging Panel is Chris Evans, who created and launched 500 Words at Radio 2 in 2011.

Fascinating 500 Words facts:

BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show’s 500 Words is the UK’s biggest short story writing competition for children between five and 13 years old

934,296 entries have been received since its launch in 2011

Over 467 million words have been submitted, making it the largest database of children’s writing in the world

Over 20,000 schools nationwide have taken part in 500 Words

Over 45,000 entries are submitted in the last 12 hours before the competition closes!
The six winners - Bronze, Silver and Gold in each of the two age categories - will be announced at the live final at Buckingham Palace where their stories will be read out on-air by some superstar narrators. Each will receive an illustration of their story from one of six well-known illustrators - Tony Ross, Margaret Sturton, David Roberts, Sue Cheung, Fiona Lumbers, and David McKee. The two Gold winners receive Chris Evans’ height in books and both of their schools will be sent 500 books for their library. The Silver winners receive HRH The Duchess of Cornwall’s height in books, and the Bronze winners receive their own height in books. Additionally, all the entrants and volunteer judges will be invited to enter into a ballot to attend the final. There is also a new prize - one entrant will be selected via random ballot to receive an invite to the final, a book bundle for themselves plus 500 books for their school library.

Also today, to help inspire children in classrooms all over the country to enter the competition, BBC Teach is hosting the 500 Words 2020 Live Lesson, an exciting interactive programme for schools streaming live on www.bbc.co.uk/teach at 11am. Taking place at the same school with an audience of their Year 6 pupils, Zoe Ball, CBBC’s Rhys Stephenson and Hacker T Dog will be joined by 500 Words judges Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Charlie Higson and Francesca Simon. The judges will be providing budding writers with their top tips and advice, looking at ways we can take inspiration from the past, present and future to help start their own stories. For more information or to watch live on the day, visit the website, where the Live Lesson will also be available to watch afterwards.

Once again, 500 Words will be run in association with Oxford University Press (OUP) to increase reach into schools and provide further support to teachers. Since 2012, OUP's language experts have been analysing the stories that are entered for the competition. Each one is added to the Oxford Children’s Corpus (which is made up of over 400 million words), allowing OUP to capture children’s fascinating and evolving use of language, and pick out key trends and themes. Each year OUP reveals the Children’s Word of the Year based on their analysis of the 500 Words entries - with Brexit (2019), plastic (2018), Trump (2017), refugee (2016), hashtag (2015), minion (2014) and mum (2013) being selected in previous years.

Helen Freeman, Director, Oxford Children’s Books, says: “Reading the stories submitted to 500 Words each year is a joy and a privilege for Oxford University Press. Every year we are astounded by the new and creative ways children use language, and are hugely impressed by how imaginative the stories are - featuring everything from Brexit to unicorns. Our language experts analyse the stories, looking at key trends and changes in usage, and these findings inform the resources we create to help children develop the language skills they need for learning and for life.”

The illustrators
Margaret Sturton’s mixed ethnic heritage inspires her exploration of identity and belonging. The idea for her debut picture book, A Fox Called Herbert, came to her on a train journey

Fiona Lumbers, from an early age, always insisted she would be an artist when she grew up. She has illustrated Luna Loves Library Day and The Hairdo That Got Away, both written by Joseph Coelho, and written and illustrated Clem And Crab

David McKee is the creator of well-known characters including King Rollo, Mr Benn, and Elmer the Patchwork Elephant which is now published in more than 50 languages
Tony Ross is best known for his much-loved Little Princess series, his collaboration on David Walliams’ best-selling children’s books, and Francesca Simon’s Horrid Henry series. He has been named as the best-selling illustrator in the UK for three years in a row, and is the UK’s libraries' most-borrowed illustrator

David Roberts has collaborated with some of Britain’s most loved children’s authors, including Jacqueline Wilson and Julia Donaldson, but is best known for his collaboration with Julian Clary’s children’s books series, The Bolds

Sue Cheung is the author-illustrator of Chinglish, a book of diary entries and doodles based on the real life events of Sue growing up above a Chinese takeaway in Coventry
About 500 Words

The entries are read by a fantastic team of volunteer teachers and librarians from around the UK who make an initial selection. The Reading Agency then whittle these down to the Top 50. The 500 Words’ judging panel then have the task of selecting the Bronze, Silver and Gold winners in each of the two age categories

Past narrators of the winning stories include Julie Walters, Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Bonneville, Helen McCrory, Michael Sheen, Sandi Toksvig, David Walliams, Jim Broadbent, Jenny Agutter, David Suchet, Benedict Cumberbatch, Amanda Abbington, Jason Isaacs and Paloma Faith
Previous finals have been held at Windsor Castle (2019), Hampton Court Palace (2018), The Tower of London (2017), Shakespeare’s Globe (2016), St James’s Palace (2015) and Hay Festival (2014)

Source BBC Radio 2

January 16, 2020 5:24am ET by BBC Radio 2  

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