I am delighted to be here with you again, but this year, it's a serious responsibility – Chris Evans asked me to be a judge. Of course, it was a huge pleasure to read the brilliant stories you sent in, but it has been an almost impossible task to decide on the winners.
But what a wonderful place to celebrate another final!
I must say, I thought St. James's Palace was quite special, but being here in the Globe Theatre in William Shakespeare's 400th anniversary year is even better.
Because who wrote better tales than Shakespeare? They have lasted 400 years! He wrote about murders and shipwrecks, fairies and witches, battles and romances. And they still speak to us; they still make us laugh and cry and think. We don't really know much about his life – we don't even know the precise date he was born – but we do know his stories and we still recognise the people in them.
If you think of romance, everyone remembers Romeo and Juliet. And history comes to life as Kings and Queens stride through his plays – a desperate Richard the Third crying 'My Kingdom for a horse!' Henry the Fifth calling bravely to his soldiers 'Once more, once more unto the breach!' Stories set all over the world: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, thinking out loud and musing 'To be or not to be…'; Lady Macbeth sleepwalking or the fairies in Midsummer Night's Dream. Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, at last count, so I won't go on...
But, you know, even though he was a genius, everyone here has one thing in common with Shakespeare – we all love words. When I was thinking about what to say to you today, and when you were writing your stories, we all chose our words really carefully. We wanted to find just the right one. For all of us, words are the building blocks – and like Lego bricks, they can be the colour and size that we want.
Now, because Shakespeare was a poetic genius, he wasn't happy to use the words that he already knew – he invented new ones to say exactly what he wanted. You'd be surprised how many of those words we use today. One sort of book that I'm not an expert on is Facebook… but I believe that you can be 'friended' and 'unfriended' there. It sounds very modern, but actually Shakespeare used both those words in his plays.
There are hundreds of words which scholars think Shakespeare was the first to use. Here are a few that caught my eye – bandit, buzzer, barefaced; madcap, majestic, moonbeam; scuffle, shipwrecked, swagger. I wonder how many of these words you used in your stories?
And you don't even have to go to see a play to quote from Shakespeare. His words are so apt and so memorable, they're part of the fabric of our everyday language. Do you know someone with a 'heart of gold'? That's Shakespeare. If you won't 'budge an inch' because you need more 'elbow room' – That's Shakespeare. Whether you are 'tongue-tied' or a 'tower of strength' or 'too much of a good thing' – those are all his words. And don't forget, 'all's well that ends well'– that's his too!
Now I hope you will have the chance to see one of his plays - perhaps here at the Globe or at Stratford-upon-Avon. But, most of all, I do hope that everyone who took part in this inspiring competition will, like Shakespeare, carry on enjoying the power of words and weaving the magic of stories.
Thank you all very much!