Tom Hiddleston hits right note at 500 Words creative writing final
Tom Hiddleston performed a song from his first acting role as Toad Of Toad Hall as he was joined by the Duchess of Cornwall to honour winners of a children's creative writing competition.
He treated the finalists of Radio 2's 500 Words short story competition to a brief rendition of "Beep beep crackle bang" on stage at Shakespeare's Globe after telling host Chris Evans that Wind In The Willows was the first school play he was in.
After Evans asked for a performance, the star of The Night Manager said: "I walked right into that one" before launching into: "Crackle bang, crackle bang, like a a vintage car, hey!"
Hiddleston, who is widely touted to be in the running to take over the role of James Bond from Daniel Craig, was tight-lipped when Evans asked him: "What have you been reading? Anything by Ian Fleming? Just checking."
He was joined by stars including Julie Walters, Andy Serkis and Nick Jonas to read out the winning stories in the competition, which were announced during Evans' Radio 2 breakfast show broadcast live from the theatre.
The competition asked children aged 13 and under to compose an original work of fiction under the word limit to promote literacy and encourage them to explore their creativity.
Hiddleston read out the story that won the silver prize in the 10 to 13 years category, The Sands Of Time by Clara Cowan, 10, from Glasgow, while Serkis read out the silver winner in the five to nine years category, The Grannies Who Flew To The Moon by Katie Denyer, nine, from Surrey.
Walters read out the gold medal winning story from the five to nines, Poor Pig's Revenge by Evie Fowler, nine, from Kent and Jonas read e-COURTROOM.com by Ned Marshall from mid Wales, who won in the 10 to 13 category.
The bronze winners were The Great Cookie Quest by Ben Bailey, 10, from Gloucestershire and The Smoking Pipe by Fergus Gathorne-Hardy, eight, from Suffolk. The stories were read by Harry Potter actor Warwick Davis and Game Of Thrones star Raleigh Ritchie respectively.
Walking out on stage to present the gold medal winners with their prizes, honorary judge the Duchess of Cornwall said: "I don't think I've ever been on this stage, I've watched from the boxes but it's quite frightening to be up here. I think I would rather be down there."
Dressed in a cream dress by Artigiano, she added: "I've never seen such brilliant stories. My grandchildren were going to write a story but I saw some of them and they didn't quite match up. Perhaps next year they will put in a better one."
The senior royal, who rarely speaks in front of cameras, said there was no better place to celebrate creative writing than at the Globe in Shakespeare's 400th anniversary year.
Camilla, transformed into an animated character to help launch the competition in January, told the children: "I just want to reassure you that this is the real me here this morning.
"I'm afraid I'm a little bit older than my cartoon character."
She added: "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 building blocks and Lego bricks, they can be the colour and size that we want."
After the ceremony, Walters said she thought her story had the best line, saying: "It was such a brilliant line, I'm not sure I was worthy of it. It was heaven. "
She added: "This competition is really brilliant, it is so important to encourage imagination."
She also revealed her unexpected love of emojis, saying she fills her phone memory with new symbols but prefers the traditional heart and knife and fork above all others.
Evans, who introduced musical guests All Saints, One Republic and Foxes for live sets during the radio show, said he was overwhelmed by the magic of the morning.
The broadcaster, who will present the new series of Top Gear when it returns to BBC2, ended the breakfast programme saying: "Don't forget there is a car show starting on Sunday," but speaking afterwards, he said he isn't nervous.
"It's all done, there is nothing to be nervous about, it's all in the can.
"Normally my shows are live so if I had a TFI Friday to do I would be but I'm not thinking about it and, honestly, this is the perfect antidote anyway because it just reboots your system.
"We will try our best and you can't do any more than that. The only reason you ever worry is if you think in the back of your head you didn't give it your all.
"I could not have done more and if it's not enough then I'm not the man. If it is, it is."