50 Finalists Unveiled: BBC 500 Words Competition Heads to Buckingham Palace

The competition’s Grand Final is taking place at Buckingham Palace with Luke Evans and Olivia Dean confirmed as celebrity readers 


BBC 500 Words unveils the 50 young finalists of the UK’s most celebrated children’s writing competition, marking a significant milestone ahead of the Grand Final set to take place at Buckingham Palace this week. 


Selected from a massive 44,000 entries, 50 exceptional young writers have risen to the top, capturing the hearts and minds of the judges with their imaginative tales. Their 50 stories are now available to read and listen to on the BBC Teach website.  


To celebrate their literary achievement, the 50 successful young writers have been invited to attend the Grand Final of the competition, hosted by Romesh Ranganathan at Buckingham Palace, with Her Majesty The Queen, who has championed the competition every year since 2015. 


Three-time BRIT Award nominee, Olivia Dean, and Welsh blockbuster actor, Luke Evans, will join the prestigious line-up of celebrity readers, including award-winning actor Hugh Bonneville as well as TV personality and professional dancer, Oti Mabuse. The celebrity readers will bring the overall BBC 500 Words six winners’ stories to life by reading them out loud and to an audience at the event. 


Helen Foulkes, Head of BBC Education, said: “It’s brilliant that so many children from across the UK entered their stories to BBC 500 Words, a competition that goes to the heart of BBC Children’s and Education. The Grand Final is going to be a very special occasion that celebrates the next generation of creative writers.”   


Behind the scenes, an army of volunteer teachers and librarians, along with The Reading Agency, meticulously sifted through the entries in the first two rounds of judging, whittling down the entries to just 50 finalists. 


Hailing from all corners of the UK, the finalists represent a diverse spectrum of voices with the young wordsmiths coming from Kent, Merseyside, Wiltshire, Glasgow, Vale of Glamorgan and beyond. Among the cohort, two sets of siblings make up this year’s 50 finalists, with Henry and Isabella from Hampshire, and Zemira and Akeeva from Oxfordshire, all of whom impressed judges in the first two rounds of the competition. 


The One Show will cover the Grand Final in a special programme presented by Roman Kemp and Alex Jones ‘500 words with The One Show’ on World Book Day®, Thursday 7 March 2024, when the overall winners are crowned.  


Every finalist’s story is available to read now on the BBC Teach website, alongside audio versions which have been recorded especially by BBC Radio Drama Actors.