Newspaper headlines: Benedict Cumberbatch 'to wed on Valentine's Day'

What better way for the papers to celebrate Valentine's Day than by reporting a celebrity wedding.

The imminent nuptials of Sherlock Holmes actor Benedict Cumberbatch give the Sun its lead story, while the actor is also pictured alongside fiancee Sophie Hunter on the front pages of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph.

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"Shh! Benedict weds in secret," is the Daily Mail's headline. It reports: "The 38-year-old Sherlock star reportedly emailed invitations to the wedding to family and friends, rather than sending them by post, in an attempt to keep the event secret."

The Telegraph recalls that, only last month, Cumberbatch had suggested a wedding was "a long way off". However, the paper adds: "It now appears that his comments were designed to avert rumours that the wedding was imminent."

Luckily for gossip-hungry readers, the Sun's Andy Crick donned deerstalker and whipped out his magnifying glass in a bid to solve the "baffling mystery of Sherlock's wedding plans". Having pieced together clues such as the couple's presence on the Isle of Wight last month, signs warning of road closures and a notice saying a church is closed, he now says he knows the full details.

"The clue that sealed our investigation was a legal letter sent to the Sun saying a private function was taking place at the reception venue today and that our photographers would be banned," he writes, adding that he won't spill the beans in full "so no-one spoils the couple's big day".

In its editorial column, the Daily Mirror passes on its congratulations to the happy couple but adds: "The wedding is bad news for smitten fans across Britain - and you don't need to be Sherlock to work that out."


Love stories?

Not everyone is feeling similarly loved up. The Independent meets a "love ambassador" who, it transpires, is not spreading forth a message of universal understanding. Rather, Bill Nelson is a US embassy official who interviews couples who claim to be in transatlantic relationships to decide whether it's "true love or a ruse to get a visa".

Meanwhile, in the FT Weekend Magazine, economist Tim Harford tries to find a mathematical solution for the perfect love match. After examining various algorithms and dating apps, he concludes the secret is "to date a lot of people".

Gloomily, the Times reports on the "five-year glitch that leaves lovers feeling unsatisfied". Research undertaken for counselling service Relate has revealed that sexual satisfaction "tails off" after couples have spent five years together, it says. If readers feel they might be joining that club, they can take the Mail's test to discover "how strong is your love?" If the answer is not to their liking, the paper has "marriage expert" Andrew G Marshall explain "how to fall in love with your other half again".

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The Sun says more "hungry lovers" than ever are dining at home on Valentine's Day, so taste-tests some supermarket meal-for-two deals to help those short on cooking time. It also tries out a few "love apps" for those hoping for a last-minute invitation to dine. And the Daily Mirror "decodes" text message Valentine's kisses for lucky recipients. Explanations range from "X = I'm interested" and "xx = I love you" to "Xc = I love you but I'm not a very good texter" and "XXXXX = I'm a stalker".

Lovelorn readers would do well to take a trip abroad, if the Daily Telegraph's advice is right. "Forget chat-up lines, a British accent will do," it says, quoting a survey by Time Out magazine suggesting British people have the "sexiest" and "most dateable" accents.

Some papers find room for a traditional rhyme but Telegraph cartoonist Matt isn't much in the mood for love. He pictures a man writing in his lover's card: "Roses are red, Champagne is bubbly. Have a wonderful day, I'll be at the rugby." Finally, the Sun has advice for those who only remembered the date on picking up the paper: "Roses are red, violets are blue. The garage is open. They may have a few."


Eye-catching headlines

  • "Rovers to return as a real boozer!" - Plans are afoot to save the Coronation Street set, and open its famous pub, says the Daily Star
  • "Battle of the flower borders" - the Daily Express on how a feud over dog mess prompted a man to trample his neighbour's garden during an assault that landed him in court
  • "Wuffing amazing" - the Sun's description of a loyal dog who spent four hours walking more than two miles to find its ill owner in hospital
  • "The secretive Facebook censors who decide what is (and what isn't) abuse" - the Independent visits the Dublin-based multilingual team policing the social network's "reported" comments

'Ruthless, but necessary'

Commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the German city of Dresden's firebombing by Allied forces prompt plenty of comment.

The Daily Mail records the angry response to Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, referring to a "profound feeling of regret and deep sorrow" over the bombing. His speech was "immediately criticised as an insult to the young men who gave their lives to defeat the Nazis", the paper says.

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And the Mail also finds fault in the BBC's coverage of the anniversary, arguing that it "failed to mention the 55,000 airmen who died for Britain during the war", adding: "Nor did it mention the devastating Nazi bombing raids on London and Coventry."

Commentator Simon Heffer writes in the Mail that while the British raid was ruthless, it was also necessary. "The Dresden raid was not merely about terrorising the population: it was also about crushing an important part of Germany's infrastructure... The end of the war was brought closer than would otherwise have been the case," he writes.

In the Daily Mirror, RAF Gulf War veteran John Nichol - who has written a book about the raids - asks whether some historians are right to suggest they constituted a war crime, and whether Britain should apologise. He writes: "My answer to this is a resounding 'No'... The harsh reality of the time was that only total war would bring Hitler's Germany to its knees.

"The end was far from apparent early in 1945. One wonders what the hindsight experts would be saying today if the RAF had stopped the bombing early and the war had gone on for months, perhaps even years."

The Guardian interviews Eberhard Renner, who was 12 when the raids interrupted his family's "petit bourgeois existence" and proved wrong their thinking that "the English were too cultivated to destroy a city like Dresden, the so-called Florence on the Elbe". He insists the bombing shortened the war, "saving the lives of some soldiers and others who would otherwise have died, and without a doubt Hitler was to blame for the bombings". But he adds: "I'll always have to ask whether it was necessary to kill 25,000 civilians".


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