Newspaper headlines: 'Deirdre Barlow' shock, Blunt v Bryant and Sun drops p3?

Despite the news breaking late, tabloid front pages are dominated by the death of Coronation Street star Anne Kirkbride.

Both the Daily Mirror and Sun report that the soap's Deirdre Barlow lost a battle with cancer at the age of 60. The former dedicates three pages to the report, with a nod to one of her most famous plotlines - her jailing for fraud and the campaign for her release - via the headline: "Tears for the Weatherfield One of a kind."

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Mirror TV critic Ian Hyland writes: "I can't believe we'll never see Deirdre Barlow on the cobbles again. Never glimpse those gigantic glasses. Never hear that mischievous and throaty laugh... It was a source of pride at Corrie that Ken and Deirdre's two weddings rated higher than those of Charles and Diana and Charles and Camilla that took place in the same years."

As the Daily Mail notes, Kirkbride appeared in 1,439 episodes of the show and had previously fought back from a battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. "She met her husband David Beckett on the set of the show. He played Deirdre's on-screen handyman boyfriend in the soap and the romance soon blossomed off screen," it says. The paper also remembers her four screen marriages - to Ray Langton and twice to Ken, either side of a union with Samir Rachid.

The Daily Express is among those featuring tributes from William Roache, who played Ken. "She was an impeccable performer with superb comedy timing and an immense gift for really heightened drama. We had some rows over the years as Ken and Deirdre and it was wonderful to play those scenes opposite her."


Eye-catching headlines

Gas and hot air?

Energy prices are back in the headlines, with the Daily Telegraph reporting ministers' demands for the rest of the "Big Six" to follow the lead of British Gas and E.On by cutting household bills in the wake of falling wholesale prices.

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However, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander is quoted saying British Gas's 5% reduction does not go far enough and calling for prices to be reduced further and more quickly in future. The Financial Times also sees a "lukewarm response" to the price cuts, quoting a spokesman from price comparison website MoneySupermarket saying: "This decrease is small in comparison to the whopping 20% drop in the price of wholesale gas over the past 12 months."

Meanwhile, in the Sun, personal finance commentator Martin Lewis points out energy firms' suggestions they held back from reducing bills in case a future Labour government honoured a pledge to force firms to freeze prices for 20 months from May. It leads the paper to brand the party's leader a "gasbag", with its editorial saying: "Prices are falling before Ed Miliband has had his chance to freeze them... at a higher level."

However, the Daily Mirror says Mr Miliband is right that a "regulator with teeth" is needed to champion householders and businesses. "Labour's policy needs tinkering with but Ed Miliband remains right when he argues we need a body to end the great gas and electricity rip-off." And while the Daily Mail criticises his price freeze policy, it acknowledges Mr Miliband's attack on the energy firms "struck a chord with voters".

"The way to make them pass on price cuts is to introduce proper competition to a market of complex tariff structures," the Mail's editorial says. "This means tougher regulation from Ofgem."


Model of the future?

Suggestions the Sun is dropping topless models from page three of its print edition are given credence by its News UK stablemate, the Times.

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The latter reports: "Friday's edition of the [Sun] was the last that will carry an image of a glamour model with bare breasts on that page, ending a convention that began in 1970, shortly after Rupert Murdoch bought the newspaper and turned it into Britain's bestselling daily tabloid."

A surreptitious flick inside the red-top reveals some relatively office-safe, if still somewhat racy, photographs of Hollyoaks actresses on the beach. Readers hoping to see "Lucy from London" are directed to a website. Sun editor David Dinsmore has been tight-lipped on the matter, while his PR chief was keeping things vague by tweeting: "Page 3 will be in The Sun tomorrow in the same place it's always been - between page 2 and page 4."

Whether or not the models' confinement to the web is permanent remains to be seen. Meanwhile, there is no sign that Ellie, 22, from Liverpool, will be the last to appear on page three of the Daily Star.


Low-blow culture

A spat between singer James Blunt and Labour's shadow culture minister Chris Bryant is reported widely. The latter had warned against public-school elitism in the arts, saying: "We can't just have a culture dominated by Eddie Redmayne and James Blunt and their ilk".

And the Guardian prints letters exchanged between the pair, in which Blunt brands the Labour man a "classist gimp" and "prejudiced wazzock", with the MP responding: "Stop being so blooming precious."

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Helpfully, the Times explains: "A wazzock, for the uninitiated, is a 'stupid or annoying person'; an insult often traced to Yorkshire, at least as far back as 1980." The Independent points out that Oxford-educated Mr Bryant is a former "day boy" at Cheltenham College - "£8,000-a-term" - who has called his family "the cheap end of posh", before giving him room to explain his point further.

He writes of the difficulties for those who "can't afford enormous fees for drama school... don't know anybody who can give you a leg up... can't afford to take on an unpaid internship", before adding: "I have no beef whatsoever with those from a privileged background doing well for themselves, in the arts or any other field... Every talent should have a chance, regardless of background."

However, the Sun, which tweaks the title of a Blunt megahit to sum up his riposte as "You're Pitiful", describes the Labour MP as "a class warrior from central casting". It runs through a boxing-style Tale of the Tape for the two men, giving Blunt an 8/10 "graft rating" against Bryant's 7/10, and having the singer outscore the politician 9-8 on "posh rating".


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