News headlines: Papers' verdict on Question Time leaders special

As you might expect, assessing the "winner" of BBC Question Time's leaders special depends very much on the political line taken by the paper you read.

The audience in Leeds gave David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg a fairly torrid time, as the "big three" faced separate inquisitions from an audience which was made up of 75% supporters of the three parties and 25% undecided voters.

The Daily Mail says: "The election roared into life last night as real voters had their say in a high-octane TV clash with the three main party leaders."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Newspaper pundits say the audience at Leeds Town Hall was the real star of the leaders' Question Time programme

It says Mr Miliband was "shredded" on "trust with the economy, Labour's spending and record on immigration".

The Daily Telegraph says the Labour leader, who made a slight misstep as he left the stage, had stumbled over the spending record of the last Labour government.

With all three leaders enduring difficult questions, Mr Miliband "encountered the most hostile reception as he was attacked for Labour's previous economic record, his attitudes towards business and immigration," the paper says.

"Senior Conservatives were on Thursday night hoping that the testy exchanges... will finally mark a turning point in the election campaign," it adds.

The Times said Mr Miliband was "savaged" by the audience with one man telling the Labour leader "how can you stand there and say you didn't overspend. That's absolutely ludicrous. You are frankly just lying".

In its analysis, the paper said Labour's top man "appeared more on edge than in previous debates, and Mr Clegg was "relaxed and confident" at first, but became "tetchy" whereas it thinks "the prime minister held his own against a tough crowd".

The Daily Mirror takes a rather different view on the evening's broadcast.

It says Mr Cameron was "slippery as an eel" as he "spent 30 minutes trying hard not to tell the truth.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A snap poll for the Guardian suggested David Cameron had been most successful on the show

"Voters accused him repeatedly of lying and deceiving the British public."

The paper publishes a list of 10 things Mr Cameron told the audience which it says "aren't quite right".

A snap poll published by the Guardian/ICM suggested that 44% of respondents thought Mr Cameron had "won" the night, with 38% plumping for Mr Miliband and 19% Mr Clegg.

The paper adds that only 8% of those polled said their vote may be swayed by the show.

The paper says the most significant portion of the programme came when Mr Miliband said: "I just want to repeat this point to you: I am not going to have a Labour government if it means deals or coalitions with the SNP. I want to say this to voters in Scotland."

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon told BBC Scotland that Scottish voters would "never forgive Labour" if their stance allowed David Cameron to retain power.

School gates

Another story that plays big in Friday's papers is a survey on behalf of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) which, in the words of the Independent, "estimates that schools are spending £43m a year to offset the effect of poverty on their pupils".

The paper adds that teachers report buying clothes, breakfasts, toothbrushes, washing facilities, stationery and even family birthday cards for children from poor backgrounds.

Russell Hobby of the NAHT is quoted as saying: "Schools are starting to provide miniature welfare states to fill in the gaps that are emerging. We've got to talk about the children's budget rather than the schools' budget on this."

The paper's editorial says, "We can be certain that the people who will most feel the effects of welfare cuts will be mostly those who already have to get by with very little money, whereas you need to have a decent budget to benefit from a ban on tax rises.

"The case for the Conservatives' strategy is that it rewards work and discourages anyone from choosing to live off welfare benefits.

"The downside is that it will exacerbate inequality, by making the poor poorer."

The Daily Mirror says, "Schoolchildren are bearing the brunt of David Cameron's five-year rampage of brutal cuts".

Alison Graham, of the Child Poverty Action Group, tells the paper: "The bald fact is that child poverty is rising not falling, and teachers see it every day in their classrooms.

"The next government must act on the child poverty crisis and ensure families can get decent jobs, with decent pay, universal childcare, affordable housing and decent state support."

The Mirror adds: "The head teachers who completed the survey represent 10% of state schools in England, meaning the study provides the most comprehensive ever snapshot of life at the school gates."

Lost glory

The destruction wrought by a fire at Clandon Park House, near Guildford in Surrey, is extensively covered in the press.

The Times says "the fate of the treasures... was largely determined by whether curators chose to display them in rooms to the left or right of Giacomo Leoni's grand marble entrance hall."

The paper explains that the blaze is thought to have begun in the basement under the right-hand wing of the house, giving fire-fighters and National Trust volunteers just 30 to 45 minutes to save countless antiques and priceless artefacts.

Fire chief Steve Owen-Hughes tells the paper: "The teams were moving through the building ahead of the flames and could hear the floors crashing down in the rooms behind us and the popping of windows."

The Trust, which has owned the house since 1956 when it was bequeathed by the family of the Earl of Onslow, said it would take some time to determine which of the building's artworks were lost in the disaster.

Image copyright National Trust

The Times says a 17th century tapestry, the Onslow's library, a collection of porcelain birds, paintings of the stately home's founders and a cloak of kiwi feathers are believed lost, as is a football which was kicked across no man's land at the start of the Battle of the Somme.

The Daily Telegraph says the 80-room Palladian-style mansion, built on the site of an earlier hall in the 1720s, was gutted and is now just a shell.

"Structural engineers from the local authority were due to assess the outer walls of the stately property to determine whether they are safe," it adds.

The Daily Mail says: "For many people, however, the most memorable items were in the basement. This was home to the Surrey Infantry Museum, custodian of the memorabilia and medals of men such as Corporal John McNamara of the 9th Battalion, The East Surrey Regiment.

"He was awarded the VC in 1918 for his single-handed defence of a captured enemy trench near Lens in France. Just a month later, he was killed in action, aged 30. The fate of his Victoria Cross, along with those of five other Surrey heroes, remains uncertain."

Art writer Jonathan Jones wonders in the Guardian if a "marble marvel" will be lost forever because of the damage.

Noting that the damage looks "catastrophic" he answers those who may ask if it matters that a bit of "posh heritage culture" has gone.

"Clandon's architecture - let alone its contents - embodied a great opening up of the British imagination.

"The audacity of its marble hall deserved to be better known as a national glory," he writes.

"Palladian architecture is utopian in its dreams of the perfect and yet liveable place. Something heavenly went up in flames this week."

'The general region'

Let's take a diversion away from the main pages to find Friday's quirkier and more unusual news.

The Daily Star has always taken a keen interest in breasts, and has a story on that very subject.

The paper reports that for the first time in 10 years the number of "boob jobs" carried out by Britain's plastic surgeons decreased last year.

British women, the paper reckons, are increasingly fans of the natural look, now in evidence on model Katie Price, who had her famous implants removed.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Katie Price: now more natural

It adds that Botox and other non-surgical procedures are increasingly the cosmetic enhancement of choice, with analysts saying the rise of the "selfie" is driving demand.

The Guardian has a story located, as it were, further down the human anatomy.

The paper reports that an expert has criticised the size of codpieces worn by the male cast of the TV adaptation of Wolf Hall.

Victoria Miller, who is to give a paper on the bulging trouser adornments to Cambridge University, tells the paper: "They're way too small to be accurate - they should be at least double the size.

"You can kind of see them there, but they aren't really stuffed, and are easily missed - they've really toned them down for a mainstream audience. The codpiece was meant to draw the eye to the general region."

Ms Miller, who is researching the garment for her doctorate, says the codpiece was purely decorative and used like pockets.

"There are accounts of men pulling out oranges from them to impress the ladies," she notes.

Moving swiftly on, the Daily Telegraph is among a number of papers to report research into why people think wine tastes better if people think it is expensive.

The paper says University of Bonn scientists have found "preconceived beliefs created a placebo effect so strong that it changed the chemistry of the brain".

The researchers discovered this by scanning people's brains as they enjoyed wines which they were told cost between £3 and £55.

The German team repeated the results with milkshakes, with brain chemistry altering when people were told they were consuming expensive organic shakes.

Team leader Bernd Webber says, "Marketing actions can change the very biological processes underlying a purchasing decision, making the effect very powerful indeed."

I'll drink to that.

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