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The Top 10: Headlines

Clever and memorable plays on words that have made journalistic history

John Rentoul
Monday 10 December 2018 22:23 GMT
Jeremy Corbyn peruses the daily papers in Islington
Jeremy Corbyn peruses the daily papers in Islington

This list was suggested by Tom Joyce, inspired by number 9, the headline on The Economist’s assessment of the Labour manifesto.

1. “Stick It Up Your Junta.” The Sun, 20 April 1982, rejecting late peace proposals before military action began on the Falkland Islands on 1 May. Nominated by Simon Wilder.

2. “Foot heads arms body.” The Times, 1986. “A story about Michael Foot being put in charge of a committee to look at nuclear disarmament in Europe.” Simon Hoggart thought it was apocryphal, but wrote in 2010: “I have since heard from Martyn Cornell, who was a subeditor on The Times.” Thanks to BurnMarks1962.

3. “Super Caley Go Ballistic Celtic Are Atrocious.” The Sun, 8 February 2000, Inverness Caledonian Thistle beat Celtic 3-1, at Celtic. Nominated by Yes! The bees! Gary Parkinson said it was inspired by a 1970s Liverpool Echo headline about the Reds’ Ian Callaghan dominating QPR: “Super Cally Goes Ballistic, QPR Atrocious.”

4. “ZZ Blows His Top.” Express, 10 July 2006. Another footballing one, after Zinedine Zidane was sent off for a headbutt in the World Cup final. Thanks to Chris Moss‏.

5. “Ban Ki Goes to Hollywood.” The Independent, 5 March 2010. Written by Jon Dowd and drawn to my attention by Tom Peck.

6. “Over £100m! Is this the rail price? Is this just fantasy? Caught up in land buys. No escape from bureaucracy!” The Ulster Gazette, Armagh, April 2013. Dreamt up by Richard Burden, deputy editor. Thanks to Clive Davis.

7. “Tinker Taylor Snogs A Spy.” The Sun, 15 June 2016. Story by “Dan Wootton, Bizarre Editor”, a Top 10 job title. Something to do with an actor and a singer, nominated by Alice Morley.

8. “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.” The Staggers Morning Call email, edited by Stephen Bush, 21 March 2017. “George Galloway will run for the seat of Manchester Gorton.”

9. “Old McDonnell has a plan. He eyes IOUs.” The Economist, 16 May 2017.

10. “Trump Slips on Ban Appeal.” Huffington Post, 12 June 2017. Written by Chloe Angyal, senior front page editor, and nominated by hotincleveland.

Next week: Greats, either things or people

Coming soon: Worst Prime Ministers We Have Never Had, after Boris Johnson’s second near miss last week

The e-book of Listellany: A Miscellany of Very British Top Tens, From Politics to Pop is just £3.79. Your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, in the comments please, or to me on Twitter, or by email to

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