BBC Northern Ireland has unveiled the contenders for the Two Minute Tales short story competition. Launched in October, the contest was accessible to children aged five to 16. The designated theme for 2023 was ‘What Happened this Winter…’

The judging panel, comprising Kelly McCaughrain, the Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland (2019-21), acclaimed writer Lucy Caldwell, illustrator Barry Falls, and David Monahan, Editor for Education at BBC Northern Ireland, faced the challenging task of shortlisting nine English language stories and three Irish language stories from the numerous submissions received across Northern Ireland.

David Monahan, Editor for BBC NI Learning says: “We have been blown away by the creativity and talent of all the young people who entered this year’s Two Minute Tales.

“Thank you to all the writers, parents, guardians, teachers and schools who got involved from right across Northern Ireland. Every story was read and enjoyed by our team, and it has truly kicked off the Christmas period.”

The nine shortlisted English language stories will be dramatized by actors and broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster during The Lynette Faye Show from Monday 18 December at 3 pm. The ultimate winners will be revealed on Lynette’s show on Thursday 21 December.

This year also featured a distinct Irish language category, with judges Máire Zepf, Caitríona Nic Sheáin, and Roisin Kelleher. The selected three stories will be brought to life by actors and broadcast on Blas, Tuesday 19 December from 7.30 pm on BBC Radio Ulster.

The winning tales will be adapted into bespoke animations showcased on the Two Minute Tales – BBC website from Thursday 21 December. Furthermore, all shortlisted writers will receive a specially commissioned illustrated storybook featuring their narrative.

A compilation program featuring all the shortlisted Two Minute Tales will be aired on Christmas Day on BBC Radio Ulster at 12 pm and on BBC Sounds.

Finalists

English language: 5-8 Age Category

  • Charles the Snow Pig, Sam Neill, 7
  • Ice-Cube-a-rex on the rocks, Robbie Scott, 8
  • Fox’s Christmas Tale, Ciaran McDonnell, 6

English language: 9-12 Age Category

  • Showtime!, Grace Morrison, 10
  • Catching Mr Claus!, Caleb McFall, 9
  • Motherous, Noah Gibson, 9

English language: 13-16 Age Category

  • Winter’s Warmth, Charlotte Marron, 15
  • Shelter?, Abigail Goudie, 13
  • The Frigid Bubble, Niamh McConaghy, 13

Irish Language

  • An Geimhreadh Te, Gráinne Murphy, 11
  • Cá bhfuil na duilleoga?, Clíodhna Sadlier, 10
  • Eachtra Mhór Snowy, Finn Rua Mac Lochlainn, 7