Loads of pun – best tabloid headlines to make you smile

The England football team’s performance this evening was dire. Rubbish. Awful. But it did get me thinking about how big football stories tend to bring out the best in tabloid sub-editors. When it’s open season on an England manager, the puns start to flow – so look out for a few good ones in the red tops over the next few days.

In the meantime, I’ve dug up some classics that anyone would be proud of. Enjoy – and remember: although all these headlines would score virtually zero for search engine optimisation, they all looked great in 128pt type on the front (or back) page of a tabloid.

  • From Russia With GlovesFROM RUSSIA WITH GLOVES. In 1994 Chelsea played their first European away game for years. They won 4-2 on aggregate against Viktoria Zizkov (who?). Russian goalkeeper Dmitri Kharine saved a crucial penalty, and one of the British tabloids immortalised him with this, one of my all-time favourite headlines.
  • HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE KOREA? Back in October 2006, North Korea decided to conduct a not-at-all-provovative nuclear test. International condemnation followed, but no nation’s response topped The Sun’s. The newspaper’s headline raised the question of which is worse: reality TV, or a nuclear holocaust? Tough call. See the headline>
  • Inverness Caledonian Thistle beat CelticSUPER CALEY GO BALLISTIC, CELTIC ARE ATROCIOUS. It doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, but this headline from The Sun proves that the king of British red tops is difficult to beat when it comes to punnage. It’s the classic formula: rip off a song lyric everyone knows, substitute a few words and stick it on the sports pages. Brilliant.
  • TWO SH*GS. Accompanying the Daily Star’s coverage of John Prescott’s various indiscretions, it’s simple and to the point. Given the amount of flesh that’s frequently on the front page of this paper, it seems strange that they’ve stuck an asterisk in ‘shags’, but then who am I to comment on tabloid standards? Whatever, it’s simple, effective – and very British. See the headline>
  • GORD HELP US NOW! Regardless of your opinion on the Daily Diana Express, occasionally its staff come out with a gem. Ok, very occasionally. I liked this one which greeted Gordon Brown’s move into No. 10. It’s great because it makes the paper’s position immediately clear, pokes fun at the new PM’s name, and also sounds like something Alan Partridge would say. See the headline>
  • MORON TERROR. The Sun hits the spot again. Almost two years after the 21/7 attempted bombings in London, four people are found guilty of planning the attacks. Choosing to focus on the ineptitude of those involved, the paper sums up their intelligence in two words. Presumably they included the picture so that we didn’t think they were referring to George Bush. See the headline>
  • Big blubberCELEBRITY BIG BLUBBER. Yet again, from The Sun. While part of the country was obsessed with the antics of Chantelle in Celebrity Big Brother, the rest of us were intrigued to see a whale swim right up the Thames and into central London. Despite rescuers’ best efforts, the poor animal didn’t survive – it just seems a shame that Celebrity Big Brother hasn’t yet suffered a similar fate.
  • thierry.gifTOM AND THIERRY. Being an Arsenal fan, I’m completely biased on this one. Thierry Henry and Tomas ‘Tom’ Rosicky scored as Arsenal beat Liverpool at Anfield 3-1 early this year. It’s not one of The Sun’s best efforts, but they get extra points for printing it in a cartoon-style font.

That’s all folks … for now at least. What are your favourite headlines? Hit up the comment link and let me know.

75 Responses to “Loads of pun – best tabloid headlines to make you smile”

  1. Martin says:

    Back in 2003, the Reading Evening Post ran a story about a small Ford motor vehicle crashing into someone’s front garden and narrowly missing the house. The headline? “Ka-tastrophe.” See what they did there?

    Personally, I can’t help thinking that the nature of the story makes it a less-than-obvious candidate for pun treatment.

    http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/7/7755/katastrophe

  2. James says:

    I suggest you find The Sun from when Arnold Schwarzenegger won the Calafornian elections. The headline was ‘I’ve been backed’ or something. Corny but I found it rather clever.

  3. Len says:

    Julio Babtista leaving Arsenal because of the cold climate over here

    ‘Weather forces Baps out’….Genius!

  4. you should totally pich this website cuz it helps with good ideas and hard english prodjects!

  5. Matthew says:

    Flicking through a British tabloid many years ago I saw the unforgettable headline “ARMY LLAMA DING DONG”

    I have no idea what the story was but the headline writer must have been waiting for it for years.

  6. Galli says:

    When Eric Cantona attacked a supporter:
    “THE S**T HITS THE FAN”
    Tara Palmer-Tompkinson goes skinny-dipping:
    “TARA RAW BUM DISPLAY”

  7. C McEwan says:

    At the end of a protracted prison roof-top protest by inmates: SCUM ON DOWN. The Sun, of course. I despise the paper, but i have to admit they have the best headlines. Thanks for this article, it’s really made me laugh on a day I needed cheering up.

  8. [...] Tabloid editors know this and they have mastered the art of grabbing our attention. Link. Link. Link. One interesting effect of putting the meat of every paragraph into its first sentence is that a [...]

  9. Matt says:

    My all-time favourite was The Sun’s headline on a story about a woman who bit off a man’s testicle during a fight:

    “I’m having a ball!”

  10. D Lewis says:

    On the passing of Ike Turner: ‘Ike Beats tina to death’

  11. Gerry Gibberer says:

    Don’t know if it was the same rooftop protest, but The Sun carried a small pic of prisoners reading, well, The Sun, on page 1 with the headline: “Even Scum Read The Sun!”

    As for classics: The New York Post’s “Headless Body In Topless Bar” is one of the most famous. http://willdo.philadelphiaweekly.com/archives/120806headless.png

    And it is probably apocryphal, but suppoosedly during WWII, after a US assault cut off the enemy, a newspaper ran the delightful double entendre: “Eighth Army Push Bottles Up Germans” — read it whichever way you want!

  12. Moony06 says:

    All from The Sun

    After Jeremy Beadle passed away:
    “Beadle’s Not About”

    After Elton John’s civil partnership:
    “Elton takes David up the aisle”

    About a Chinese snooker player:
    “Pot Noodle”

  13. John Graham says:

    From The Sun (09 Feb 2009), accompanying a picture of a Kestrel and a Barn Owl spotted fighting over food:

    “Hawk Kestrel maneuvres in the park”

    Classic

  14. John says:

    @John – that is an absolute classic. It’s made my day!

  15. Paul Parkinson says:

    I found this while looking for a headline which I am pretty sure came from The Sun “Singing Nun In Drug Suicide Pact” – anyone else remember it? I’m trying to get a copy of the page but I think that’s a big ask.

    Cheers.

    I am @parkylondon on twitter

  16. [...] The Guardian/ Bad: Blog post on great tabloid headlines (because they don’t won’t work so well [...]

  17. park'Bike says:

    best i’ve seen.

    liam mellor (who?) played briefly for liverpool.
    scores a cracker of a volley from nowhere one saturday.
    headline reads: “Mellie the elegant”

    priceless

  18. oz says:

    When John Prescott punched the farmer in the face while electioneering in 2001.

    The Sun lead with ‘TWO JABS’,

    The Mirror went with ‘MANIFISTO!’

  19. oz says:

    oh, and when Gianni Versace was gunned down in 1997, the Sport tactfully chose…

    ‘Shoot you Sir’.

  20. munter hunter says:

    ‘One’s Humble And Eighty’… Aul Liz’s landmark birthday a few years back…

  21. Seany Mac says:

    A couple of years ago, Gabriel Heinze of Man Utd was supposedly in a deal to swap him with Leighton Baines of Everton. Headline was simply ‘Heinze means Baines’ Brilliant!

  22. Andy says:

    One from my local paper, The Herald. Bit of background on the story – a group of yobs stole the Mayor of Torpoint’s car and drove it into the River Tamar and the heading:

    Citroen On The Dock Of A Bay

  23. Ali says:

    1997 Argentine Grand Prix, Pedro Diniz’s car catches fire. The Sun’s headline: “Diniz in the Oven” :-D

  24. toyr says:

    funny ha.Whant to here one of mine,wroonaldo,get it.

  25. yum says:

    Not a headline but still my favourite painted signage. From a now demolished building in Camden Town London, circa 1975… “Naramor and Tozer — Manufacturers of Screwed Products.

  26. Adam says:

    These are all funny lol

  27. Cormac says:

    What about the time Sting got snapped coming out of a knocking shop whilst on tour with the Police in Germany… the Sun’s headline:

    “Sting’s massage in a brothel”

    Classic!

  28. barry chick says:

    From The Sun. An English football team beat a German team courtesy of their substitute who scored winning goal. Headline read: “Germans sunk by English sub!”

  29. FlipFlop says:

    My personal fav while working as a reporter (and one which we got into trouble about as the owner did not see the funny side.

    A cat called Chutney was attacked and killed by a dog. The headline: Mangled Chutney.

    Genius.

  30. Drew says:

    The Sun recently on the French leader’s and wife’s affairs:

    “SARKY GETS NARKY AT CARLA MALARKY”. Amazing

  31. jim says:

    a woman writes into the sun about how she wants to sleep with one eyed, hook handed convicted terrorist Abu Hamza.

    Headline?

    ‘I want nookie with hookie’

  32. Dan says:

    Two great ones that have always stuck with me from mid 1990s when Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher were battling it out for Formula 1 world championship. After some underhand tactics by the German: – “Schu Dirty Rat!” and “Hun-believable!” Lol!

  33. Tom H says:

    Saw an article in the paper about a new ride at Thorpe Park based around the film “Saw”. The theme park were collecting urine samples from visitors to find the worst smelling that could then be used as part of the ride to stimulate the senses. The headline read:

    “She sells, wee smells when you see saw”

    Genius!

  34. playdumb says:

    the mothers in the tony neighbourhood of Chelsea had elective C-sections. The headline – Too Posh To Push?

  35. Stuart S says:

    After George Michael had a car crash – The Sun headline :

    “George Michael Shunts Trucker In Rear”

  36. Stewart Dunigan says:

    When someone ambushed the house of commons in protest against fox hunting…

    ‘For fox sake’

  37. Ricky says:

    My favourite has to be a headline from one of the local Yorkshire rags (maybe the Yorkshire Post?) during the foot and mouth nonsense a few years ago:

    Sheepless in Settle

  38. [...] SEO means we must bid farewell to the pithy puns, the delayed drops and the journo jargon of print. In print, this post might have been called [...]

  39. [...] an online tabloid article would have to say “Whale Swims Up Thames”. Hundreds of other examples exist, especially when it gets to Britain’s other love: [...]

  40. Tony says:

    Sam Fox has a breast reduction: Sun headline – Where Bra They Now?

  41. Chris says:

    Best one I’ve heard is about a library service closing in a small Essex village – Book lack in Ongar.
    Best one I’ve written was for a story about a well-known DIY firm laying off 6,000 staff back in the 90s – Texas chain store massacre (it got pulled for the second edition).

  42. John Y says:

    L’ambush – London Sun headline about the French hijacking a lorry of UK Lamb

  43. Nostrildamus says:

    Think it was in the Mail, whenever Neil Kinnock was labour leader second time round, kicking up a bullshit storm as usual:

    “Kinnochio”

    Love it.

  44. sandra gorry says:

    GO-DAFFI GO-DAFFI GO GO GO

  45. IvorBiggun says:

    Labour’s budget response.

    Ed ? Balls…….

    I rest my case m’lud

  46. Fiona says:

    One of my faves was around the 2007 story about dozen or so British sailors detained by Iran for several weeks (though Iran claims they were not actually detained). Upon their release, the sailors were, bizarrely, given new suits to wear by the Iranians. The headline from The Sun?

    “I went to Iran and all I got was this lousy suit”

  47. Steve says:

    Some good ones here but all pale to the best of all time. The morning after the Royal Wedding of Princess Diana & Prince Charles -
    -

    wait…….
    “Drink Up Chuck & Di”

    Oh Yeah…..

  48. To Mo says:

    All time classic: a man breaks out of a mental hospital, goes to a laundromat, has sex with a woman there and flees. The headline?

    Nut Screws Washer and Bolts.

  49. RID says:

    about 2000, a pair of strangers flying business class from Dallas to Manchester got caught having sex …. they were disgraced, lost their jobs, the woman’s husband left her etc etc. finally the woman, whose name was Amanda, came out the papers and said she’d had too much brandy that always made her a little crazy …

    the headline in the Sun?

    “Mile-High Mandy Gets Randy on Brandy!”

    brilliant

  50. Red Archer says:

    Not from a paper but in a Outdoor and Camping shop window one Autumn Sales. ‘Now is the discount of our Winter tents’. Love it.

  51. Gracie King & Laurette White says:

    We found one where Wayne Rooney announced that Grease was his favourite musical. “Roo are the one that I want!”

    Get it?

    From Gracie&Laurette, 14, UK

  52. K says:

    Ex-Oxbridge Rowing Blue and Public School Maths Master takes sabbatical year off, changes sex and returns to the same school to continue teaching …

    the tabloids couldn’t resist it …

    The Mirror: “Coxless”

  53. Newschief says:

    Still remember the headline from The Sun in 1992 when it was revealed that Paddy Ashdown, who was the leader of the Lib-Dems at the time, had been having an affair -

    “It’s Paddy Pantsdown!”

  54. Nyjl Hupauty says:

    After the English football team is drawn in a group with USA, Slovenia and Algeria for 2010 world cup. The Sun goes…….

    THE BEST ENGLISH GROUP SINCE THE BEATLES

  55. matt says:

    some years back i recall a caption from the sports pages of the sun commenting on a liverpool match in which Julian Dicks and Mark Wright had a nightmare game and liverpool lost the headline simply said WRIGHT DICKS

  56. Matt says:

    Personal favourite headline was in regards to George Michael caught in a public toilet. The headline read ‘Zip me up before you go go’

  57. Alam says:

    In 2009,during the global downturn, a business story on condom companies seeing improved business because couples were staying home more often rather than going out spending. my headline: Things looking up for condom makers during stiff times”. It won me the headline of the year award at my newspaper.

  58. [...] how about the same paper’s reporting of Caledonian Thistle football club’s victory over rivals [...]

  59. Bla More says:

    During the BSE crises a popular Irish male strip band caused consternation at Holyhead in Wales just because they advertised their name on the side of the van …”Irish Meat”

  60. dan says:

    when a sperm whale was stranded in the river forth four skin divers went down to check its sex apocryphal headlines

  61. Simon says:

    When Daniel Radcliffe was photographed smoking what looked like something other than a cigarette… “Harry Pothead” Classic!

  62. Mohammed Mirza says:

    When reading the Sun (where else!) i read a headline about when Man United’s Ji Park Sung missed a penalty:

    “Maybe he’s in the wrong Korea”

    The sun also published a headline after the German player Stefan Kuntz scored against England in the Euros World Cup, it obviously read:

    “Kuntz!”

    When Man United were to trying to sell Ruud Van Nistlerooy, the Sun headline read:

    “Like flogging a red horse!”

    The Sun ran a story about Man United signing the goalkeeper Tim Howard who had Tourettes. The headline read:

    “Man United are signing a new goalie we swear!”

    Hahaha

  63. Mohammed Mirza says:

    Also read a headline about when Theo Walcott scored an England hat trick:

    “Trio Walcott”

    Brilliant

  64. Mohammed Mirza says:

    When Spain beat England in an one of the competitions (can’t remember which one) the sun headline read:

    “What a Spain in the ass!”

    Hahaha

  65. [...] – especially the British publications – are renowned for using really cheeky headlines to attract readers. This is a style that they have made their own and also something that their [...]

  66. Paul G says:

    When Gianni Versace was killed, the Sport (I think) ran the headline ‘Shoot You Sir!’.

    A long while back England were playing India in a test match. Indian spinner Bishan Bedi was on great form, and the England batting performance was so miserable that the ‘extras’ count was better than England’s top scorer. The Telegraph went with ‘Bedi Byes’.

  67. Sophie says:

    James Route makes mistake and Spain gets beaten.

    he Sun published: I think that flower power’s taken the wrong route!

    So much for that…

  68. In response to the krankies admitting to being swingers, the headline in the sun read,”if you have had hanky panky with a Krankie, call us now!”

  69. [...] Loads of pun – best tabloid headlines to make you smile [...]

  70. bob maram says:

    how about……… News headline 19 May 1536 Anne Boleyn Gives Head. bob maram

  71. Lulu says:

    I think the celbrity big blubber was good hahahaha made me smile!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  72. bob maram says:

    headline in the daily mail at the time of the next fight over the falkland islands.——–”John Bull warns Buenos Aires, Dont fuck with me Argentina! Bob Maram

  73. MP says:

    I remember back in the 70′s the Sun had a back page headline revealing the dilemma then Arsenal manager Terry Neill was facing with regard to the fitness of his regular central defender and which ran something like this:
    “Neill Has Problems With Giant Willie”

  74. Jim Derochea says:

    The good ole “Loids of London!”

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