Newspaper headlines: Jeremy Clarkson's Top Gear suspension dominates headlines

Puns feature heavily in tabloid reports of the "fracas" that led to the BBC's suspension of Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson.

"Chop Gear" is how the Daily Mirror sums up the prospects for the show after the BBC scrapped Sunday's broadcast and was said to be considering canning the remainder of the series. It's "Carmageddon" for the show after the claim that Clarkson hit a producer, agrees the Sun. Despite that, it quotes Clarkson - who writes a weekend column for the paper - saying: "I'm having a nice cold pint and waiting for this to blow over." The paper also quotes a source close to the star saying he denies punching anyone.

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Cyril Dixon, of the Daily Express, caught up with the presenter at his west London home. "A scowling Clarkson would only say: 'Who do you work for?' Dressed in jeans and a jacket, Clarkson - said to be worth £30m - then disappeared indoors."

Several papers reel off Clarkson's past controversies. The Daily Mail tracks them as far back as 2003, when he drove a Toyota pick-up truck into a 30-year-old horse chestnut tree in a Somerset car park "to test its strength". Meanwhile, the Guardian recalls him comparing the look of a Japanese car to people with facial growths, insulting Mexicans and joking about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes.

Still, the Daily Telegraph points out how important Top Gear is to the BBC. Having been sold to 214 territories, it's watched by 350 million people globally and reportedly brought in as much as £150m in revenue for the corporation's commercial arm, the paper says. Adam Sherwin writes in the Independent that Clarkson's suspension is a victory for BBC TV boss Danny Cohen, who wanted the same outcome last year after leaked footage appeared to show the presenter using the N-word. "It would be [of] little surprise, given Clarkson and Mr Cohen's philosophical differences, if a permanent exit for the presenter was agreed."

Daily Mirror TV columnist Ian Hyland reckons the BBC should "get car-mad Chris Evans in" as a replacement. "Clarkson will do okay," he writes. "ITV would jump at the idea of giving him his own motoring show. They could even make him the new Britain's Got Talent judge. Clarkson and Cowell. Ratings dynamite."

Eye-catching headlines

  • "Irish MPs up all night after Ecstasy legalised" - the Times sums up how Ireland's parliament sat late to pass legislation banning a range of drugs after they were legalised by a court of appeal ruling
  • "Bad news chaps, chivalry's just another kind of sexism" - research suggests that holding doors open for women, calling them "love" or refusing to split a bill is "benevolent sexism", says the Mail
  • "Eh oh... Jihadi John loves Teletubbies" - a freed hostage claims Islamic State extremist Mohamed Emwazi relaxed by watching the children's TV show, the Daily Star reports
  • "Pay mum £172,000" - the Daily Mirror reports that the "mountain of chores" performed by UK mothers amount to 119 hours of unpaid work a week, worth more than the prime minister's salary

'Dodgy weaving'

While the Daily Telegraph is among papers quoting US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power describing the shrinking defence budgets of European nations as "very concerning", the Financial Times reckons David Cameron has a solution.

It says the prime minister has asked colleagues to investigate whether the budget for UK intelligence agencies can be counted by Nato as "defence spending" in order to help Britain meet the organisation's target of spending 2% of gross domestic product on the military. The FT quotes former Lib Dem Defence Minister Sir Nick Harvey saying he had been told to expect "all kinds of dodgy weaving and creative accounting" when the UK is expected to dip below the 2% target next year.

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Noting Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond's warning that Russia is potentially the "single greatest threat" to Britain's security, the Independent says the UK "has obligations - to our own citizens as well as to our allies - which can't be met if our military dwindles".

And the Times urges political parties to commit to defence spending and "make cuts elsewhere". It argues: "National security is the first duty of any government. It is not an afterthought to be paid for out of whatever is left once the most electorally sensitive manifesto pledges have been funded."

It prompts Telegraph cartoonist Adams to take inspiration from the Cheltenham racing festival to draw Russian President Vladimir Putin astride a prize steed, with Mr Cameron on a little wooden rocking horse. Peter Brookes, in the Times, gives the PM a Kitchener moustache with his take on the WW1 recruitment poster, reading: "Your armed forces need YOU to cough up..."

'Grim tale'

There is a tone of incredulity to the Daily Mail's front page headline. Summing up evidence given to the Commons home affairs committee by relatives of three schoolgirls who have run away to join Islamic State, it reads: "Now it's all the police's fault!"

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The paper suggests the families will face a "backlash" after criticising the police for failing to ensure they were warned that a schoolfriend of the girls had fled to Syria. "I'm sorry, but instead of wallowing in victimhood and looking for scapegoats, surely the families.... should be looking at their own role in this grim tale and facing up to their own culpability," suggests author Saira Khan, in the Mail.

The Sun, however, feels police were foolish to trust the girls to pass on to parents letters warning of their friend's disappearance. "That may have been enough to spook the trio, who hid the notes and fled before their parents had any reason to suspect they might want to follow her," its editorial column suggests.

The MPs were told that one of the girls used to do "normal teenage things" like watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians. And Telegraph sketchwriter Micheal Deacon saw MPs struggling to comprehend the mindset of a 15-year-old girl. Having heard the families' solicitor tell the MPs that "Justin Bieber is a difficult thing to understand", the writer says: "Possibly - although, whatever other criticisms one may have of Mr Bieber, he is not leading a mass-murdering cult in the takeover of the Middle East. Admiration of the latter is somewhat harder to fathom than admiration for the former."

'Dodged bullet'

Irish trainer Willie Mullins' may have recorded a historic quadruple victory on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival but it's jockey Ruby Walsh's "£50m tumble", as the Telegraph puts it, that makes the headlines.

His mount Annie Power's fall at the final fence of the Mares' Hurdle was "the single most expensive fall in National Hunt racing history", writes the paper's Paul Hayward. "[It] saved bookmaker share prices and stemmed losses that were starting to nudge £50m."

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Punters had "piled cash won on the first three winners of the day trained by Mullins" onto Walsh's ride, explains the Daily Mail, which quotes a Ladbrokes spokesman saying bookmakers' losses were around £10m, rather than the £50m anticipated. "We have dodged the most expensive betting budget ever," he reportedly says. The Mail is just as interested in the fashion on display in the stands, declaring: "It's mini-skirt weather at Cheltenham... but don't worry, a girl can still wear tweed."

And the Times is among the papers enjoying another's misfortune. "BBC sorry for presenter's mucky Cheltenham gaffe," reads its headline as it records a slip of the tongue by Radio 5 live's John Inverdale when trying to say "rose-tinted glasses".

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