Hugh Bonneville, Benedict Cumberbatch and More Read Children’s Stories at Hay Festival

Hugh Bonneville and Benedict Cumberbatch reading at the 500 Words competition (Photos: BBC Radio 2, via Twitter)
Hugh Bonneville and Benedict Cumberbatch reading at the 500 Words competition (Photos: BBC Radio 2, via Twitter)
Last week, BBC Radio 2’s The Chris Evans Breakfast Show ran a special competition meant to encourage children to write short stories. Called 500 Words, the annual event challenges children to compose a complete short story in – you guessed it – just five hundred words.

(Which is a task that, if you’ve read this blog for any length of time at all, we all know I would fail. Badly.) 

The panel of judges featured such notable celebrities as Top Gear’s Richard Hammond, children’s author Frank Cottrell Boyce, illustrator Francesca Simon, children’s laureate Malorie Blackman, and Fast Show creator Charlie Higson. The judges’ group narrowed the list down to a Top 50 from nearly 120,000 entries before choosing three winners in two age categories (9 & under and 10-13).

The gold, silver and bronze winners were announced last weekend at the annual Hay Literary Festival. The Top 50 finalists were all invited to attend the event and the winning six were read – and broadcast live on the radio – by an array of notable famous folk, including Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville, Harry Potter’s Matthew Lewis, Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch, singer Paloma Faith, Barney Harwood and Dick ‘N’ Dom.

Here’s a handful of the voices you’re most likely to recognize - reading the winners from the 9 & under age group. 

The bronze entry, Should-Be’s by Juliette Lee, as read by Benedict Cumberbatch: 

Matthew Lewis reads the silver winner, No Ideas George by Robert Jordan: 

And Hugh Bonneville reads the gold story, Lost Underground by Daniel Martlaw

To hear all the winning entries, visit the 500 Words site


Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Twitter at @LacyMB