TLS editor, Stig Abell, to chair judging panel for prestigious BBC National Short Story Award 2018 | Institute of Continuing Education skip to content

Institute of Continuing Education


The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (NSSA) today announced the editor of the Times Literary Supplement, Stig Abell, as their new Chair of Judges after TV presenter Mel Giedroyc stood down due to unforeseen work commitments.

Abell, a double first in English from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, is a journalist, author, editor and broadcaster and is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and contributor to Sky News. His counterpart on the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (YWA) is BBC Radio 1 and CBBC’s Book Club presenter Katie Thistleton, who will chair the judging panel for the teenage award as it opens for submissions for the fourth year.

Stig Abell, Chair of the BBC National Short Story Award Judging Panel says: “What a thrill to be involved in the BBC National Short Story with Cambridge University; I cannot wait to get reading. I was probably a late convert to short stories as a medium but was enticed in by some great British writers like Arthur Conan Doyle, Somerset Maugham and Jean Rhys. This award is a great chance for us to find and celebrate talent, and wallow happily in storytelling for a while.”

Abell and Thistleton will be joined by an esteemed group of award-winning writers and poets on their respective panels. For the BBC National Short Story Award: short story writer and 2016 BBC NSSA winner, K J Orr and Granta’s ‘20 under 40’ novelist, Benjamin Markovits, one of last year’s shortlisted writers, returning judge, Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio, and multi award winning poet and Cambridge alumni Sarah Howe. For the BBC Young Writers’ Award, Thistleton will lead Carnegie Medal-winning YA author and former teacher, Sarah Crossan, celebrated poet Dean Atta, adult and YA author William Sutcliffe and bestselling author, actress, singer and vlogger, Carrie Hope Fletcher.

The BBC National Short Story Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. The shortlisted writers for the BBC Young Writers’ Award will have their stories featured on the BBC Radio 1, Cambridge University and First Story websites, with the winner’s story broadcast on the radio station. In addition, a new initiative, the BBC Student Critics’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (SCA), will give selected 16-18 year olds around the UK the opportunity to read, discuss and critique the five shortlisted NSSA stories from Easter 2018.

Last year’s winner of the BBC National Short Story Award was Cynan Jones for his ‘exhilarating, terrifying and life-affirming’ story ‘The Edge of the Shoal’ with previous alumni including Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel, Jon McGregor and William Trevor. The winner of the 2017 Young Writers’ Award was 17-year-old Elizabeth Ryder for her ‘sophisticated’ and ‘original’ story ‘The Roses’. Previous winners are Brennig Davies for ‘Skinning’ and Lizzie Freestone for ‘Ode to a Boy Musician’.

2018 will be the first year of a new and exciting collaboration between the BBC and partners First Story and the University of Cambridge. The charity First Story will support the YWA and BBC SCA with further activity that will engage young people with reading, writing and listening to short stories. The University of Cambridge will support all three awards, including hosting a short story symposium at the Institute of Continuing Education on 7 July 2018, and curating an exclusive online exhibition of artefacts drawn from the University Library’s archive, to inspire and intrigue potential entrants of the YWA.

​Prof. Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge says: "The University of Cambridge has a proud tradition of nurturing literary talent, educating many people who have gone on to become our most successful novelists and short story writers. From undergraduate students to the adults, of all backgrounds and ages, who discover the joy and importance of creative writing at our Institute of Continuing Education’s Centre for Creative Writing, Cambridge inspires and encourages new writers. We are delighted that through this partnership with the BBC and First Story we can reach out to a wider audience and inspire more people to unlock their creative potential."

The University of Cambridge Centre for Creative Writing offers a wide range of part-time and short courses, from one-day classes right up to a part-time Master’s degree. Students from all backgrounds and levels of experience can take part. For more information about the Centre see:

More information about the Awards and how to enter can be found at:

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