The Headline Challenge is played every weekday morning on the BBC Tees breakfast show (95fm). Peter Barron, and occasionally Chris Lloyd, bat for The Northern Echo, coming up with a funny story from around the world and challenging listeners to produce a better headline than theirs. Points are awarded for the best headline each day and it's double-points for a song title, film, play or book.


JANUARY 2:  The owner of the World's Oldest Sweet Shop, in Pately Bridge, puts the business up for sale after 20 years. Keith Tordoff wants to run for election to be the local Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner instead.

Echo: Bon Bon Voyage (0)
BBC: Lollicop man (1)

JANUARY 3: Catholic priest Father Peter O'Connor gets a big cheer as he exits a mass in Dublin by whizzing down the aisle on a scooter he told the children he got from Santa.

Echo: All things bright and scooterful (2)
BBC: Holy roller (1)


JANUARY 6: Massachusetts couple Valerie Sneade and Jason Roy have exchanged wedding vows at the same Dunkin' Donuts store where they parted as sweethearts 30 years ago.

Echo: Donut forsake me oh my darlin’ (0)
BBC: Dunk a dunk a burning love (2)

JANUARY 7: A cat called Padstow has been rescued by RSPCA officials after breaking into a prison in Cumbria. The pussy climbed a 25-feet perimeter fence at HM Prison Haverigg and walked along razor wire before getting trapped.

Echo: Purridge (2)
BBC: The Pawshank Redemption (2)

JANUARY 8: Police were led on a high-speed chase by a naked man who stole a car from outside a Florida hotel. The driver, who was under the influence, was said to have been uncomfortable during the chase because the car had leather seats.

Echo: Top rear (2)
BBC: Chafing cars (4)

JANUARY 9: A sculpture featuring a giant swirl of whipped cream and a cherry on top is to be the latest attraction in Trafalgar Square.

Echo: The Trifle Tower (3)
BBC: The Cake Modern (4)

JANUARY 10: The world's first cheese-themed hotel is to open in London. The Cheese Suite in Camden will have cheesy wallpaper, furniture, cushions, and bathroom soap.

Echo: Brie our guest (5)
BBC: B& Brie (4)

The Northern Echo:


JANUARY 13: Diego, the 100-year-old giant tortoise with a legendary sex drive, returns to the Galapagos Islands after saving his species by fathering an estimated 800 tortoises.

Echo: Diego forth and multiply (0)
BBC: The tortoise and the heirs (1)

JANUARY 14: Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is appealing for "that special someone" to join him on a date during SpaceX's first tourist flight to the moon in 2023. He's looking for a 'life partner' and wants to "shout our love from outer space".

Echo: There’s a starman, dating in the sky (2)
BBC: Milky wahey! (1)

JANUARY 15: A man suspected of breaking into tyre shop in Georgia had to call the police to be rescued after a pile of tyres collapsed and trapped him. Police said Nathaniel King was in a "desperate situation" when he made the emergency call.

Echo: Caught tread-handed (3)
BBC: Alloy, alloy, what’s going on ‘ere then? (1)

JANUARY 16: Spotify has launched playlists for dogs left home alone.

Echo: A bone again, naturally (3)
BBC: Wired for hound (3)

The Northern Echo:

JANUARY 17: A Texas woman, whose boyfriend has dumped her, has gone viral after taking to Twitter to ask for advice on how to break the news to her cat who adored him. Abby Govinden, of Houston, said she didn't know how to tell her cat that he wasn't coming back.

Echo: If you leave miaow, you take away the biggest part of me (5)
BBC: Wake up moggie, I think I’ve got something to say to you (3)


JANUARY 20: Owner of Yum Yum, the "very fat" sheep, gives up trying to free the ewe after she gets stuck between fence & compost heap in Hampshire & calls in firefighters.

Echo: Fleece release me, let me go, for I can’t shove ewe anymore (1)
BBC: Ba Ba Fat Sheep do you need a pull? (1)

JANUARY 21: Harland Dodson, popped out to a shop in Virginia to buy his wife a new lighter for her cigarettes and ended up buying a winning Lottery scratch card that earned him $500,000.

Echo: Fags to riches (5)
BBC: Strike it lucky (1)

JANUARY 22: Nearly 100 beehives have been stolen from an orchard in Oregon, costing an estimated $44,000 dollars in honey profits.

Echo: Stealing a hive, stealing a hive (by The Bee Gees).(7)
BBC: A case for the bizzies (1)

The Northern Echo:

JANUARY 23: A blundering bank robber, who tried to conceal his identity with a pillow case over his head, was arrested after escaping "very slowly" because he'd forgotten to cut eye-holes in his disguise. Matthew Davies, who robbed Dunfermline's Bank of Scotland branch of £2,000 also stopped to pat a dog.

Echo: Eye-way robbery (7)
BBC: Pillock-case (2)

January 24: A horse that was running loose and causing traffic chaos in Cardiff was driven to safety on a local bus service.

Echo: Any more mares, please? (7)
BBC: Neigh’s Travel (3)


JANUARY 27: A book returned by student to the University of Liverpool library contained a slice of cheese that had been used as a bookmark.

Echo: The Secret Dairy of Adrian Mould (4)
BBC: Grated Expectations (0)

JANUARY 28: El Paso Zoo, in Texas, is offering spurned lovers the chance to name a cockroach after their ex and have it fed to a meerkat for lunch in an act of revenge for Valentine's Day.

Echo: Food if you think it’s over (4)
BBC: Jennifer, Alison, Philippa, Sue, Deborah, Annabel, this bug’s for you (2)

The Northern Echo:

JANUARY 29: An owl that was rescued from a ditch was found to be too fat to fly. The bird was thought to be injured but was actually "extremely obese". It has now been released back into the wild after being placed on a strict diet at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary.

Echo: Twit-twoo ate all the pies? (4)
BBC: I could fly with a little help from my friends (4)


FEBRUARY 3: Snow plough driver Justic Horak, who keeps the roads clear in Montana, has gone viral after a recording on Youtube showcased his stunning singing voice.

Echo: Snowbody does it better (0)
BBC: Grittin’s got talent (2)

FEBRUARY 4: Long-suffering wife Lindy Abbott, of Canberra, has learned to accept she'll never be a match for husband Neil's main passion building up the world's biggest collections of matchsticks and matchboxes.

Echo: Let’s stick together (2)
BBC: It’s match-rimony (2)

FEBRUARY 5: A van driver delivering seafood to a pub in Wales had a disaster when his handbrake failed and the vehicle rolled over a sheer drop. The unidentified driver was captured on film vainly chasing after the van outside The Miskin Arms in Pontyclun.

Echo: Crash bang scallop (2)
BBC: Seafood splatter (3)

FEBRUARY 6: Ten-year-old Evan Bisnauth volunteers his free time reading to stray dogs at New York City Animal Care Centres. The stories and Evan's soothing voice help to keep the pooches calm.

Echo: The Adventures of Winnie The Poodle (2)
BBC: Gnaw-rator (4)

FEBRUARY 7: An auction is bringing back memories of the day The Beatles disguised themselves as police officers to escape fans in Newcastle. Photos taken at the time are going under the hammer today.

Echo: Police Police Me, Oh Yeah, Like I Police You (2)
BBC: Help! I Need Some Bobby (6)

The Northern Echo:


FEBRUARY 10: Valentine's Day tours at New York's biggest sewage plant have sold out within 20 minutes. Newtown Creek Waste Water Recovery Facility is bizarrely a big hit with those looking for romance.

Echo: If I smell in love with you (0)
BBC: You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love pongs (2)

FEBRUARY 11: Calypso, one of the world's oldest horses, has finally died in Australia at the age of 50 - that's the equivalent of 150 in human terms.

Echo: Gone but not for trottin’ (0)
BBC: Hold your hearses (3)

FEBRUARY 12: Queen's Brian May has designed a guitar-themed sports bra.

Echo: You’re my breast friend – ooh you make me lift (0)
BBC: Another one hikes the bust (5)

FEBRUARY 13: An 82-year-old man has been jailed for 24 weeks for playing classical music too loud. Ian Trainer, 82, of Aintree, Liverpool, was locked up for breaching a restraining order banning him for playing the music above 65 decibels after complaints from neighbours.

Echo: Under lock and Tchaikovsky (2)
BBC: Sssshoshtakovic (5)

FEBRUARY 14: Wellington Zoo, in New Zealand, is offering Valentine's Day tours where romantic couples can find out more about the fascinating love lives of the various animals.

Echo: Oh-oh here she comes, she’s an anteater (5)
BBC: Fly me to baboon (5)

The Northern Echo:


FEBRUARY 17: Police in Aberdeenshire were called out on Valentine's Day to rescue two donkeys out for a "romantic stroll" on a lane near Turriff. The love-struck donkeys were escorted back to their field.

Echo: And I will (hee-haw)lways love you (2)
BBC: Don't go braying my heart (0)

FEBRUARY 18: Designers working in the motor industry are predicting that self-driving cars will come equipped with their own beds by the year 2050.

Echo: Snooze gonna drive you home (4)
BBC: Wake me up before we go home (0)

FEBRUARY 19: Amazing mum Deborah Jefferies completes her 101st Parkrun in Darlington the day before she's due to give birth. She also happened to be pushing her toddler in a buggy.

Echo: Baby, we were born to run (6)
BBC: I’m gonna run til due (0)

The Northern Echo:

FEBRUARY 20: A new set of stamps has been issued to coincide with the release of the 25th James Bond film, No Time to Die.

Echo: Lick and let die (6)
BBC: You only deliver twice (6)

FEBRUARY 21: Russian soldier Denis Kazantsev proposes to girlfriend Alexandra Kopytova by arranging 16 tanks in a heart shape at a military base near Moscow. 

Echo: I’m gunner make you love me (8)
BBC: Tanks for the marry me (8)


FEBRUARY 24: A video clip of George, the goose, meeting new girlfriend, Florence, has gone viral. The film, posted on social media by Dolly Theis, of Cambridge, shows George flapping and honking in excitement as he waddles off with Florence.

Echo: Gander love you so (0)
BBC: The first time feather I saw your face (2)

FEBRUARY 25: TV weatherman Justin Hinton was left red-faced after accidentally activating a 'funny faces filter' on the camera while reporting live from North Carolina. He ended up presenting the weather from snow-hit Ashville in various guises including a wizard and a cat.

Echo: Blunder the weather (1)
BBC: Meteor-LOL-ogist (2)

The Northern Echo:

FEBRUARY 26: A border collie from Northumberland has broken the world record for the most expensive sheepdog. Megan, trained near Morpeth by sheperdess Emma Gray sold for £18,900 at auction in Skipton, North Yorkshire, and will now be used to herd Wagyu cattle in Oklahoma.

Echo: Get bitch quick (1)
BBC: Border Lolly (3)

FEBRUARY 27: Surrey Police have come up with a novel way of trying to track down criminals - by using a "crepe artist" to create the faces of wanted law-breakers in pancakes.

Echo: Wanted for battery (1)
BBC: The Crepe Crusader (7)

FEBRUARY 28: A new study at Louisiana State University has revealed that feline-friendly music can help keep cats calm during visits to the vet's.

Echo: (Snack for my tabby oh) There’s Whiskas in the jar (1)
BBC: Neuter me are everything (9)


MARCH 2: A job advertisement has been circulated by a dog food company to find a pooch to become its official taste tester. The successful four-legged candidate must have an "outgoing personality" and be confident enough to feature in social media videos. The contract includes free dog food and snacks throughout 2020.

Echo: Chappie New Year (0)
BBC: Bone appetite (1)

MARCH 3: An American company has invented a voice-activated dog collar that translates dogs' barks into swear words. The "Cuss Collar" means your dog will curse every time it barks.

Echo: Growl-mouthed (1)
BBC: His bark is curse than his bite (1)

MARCH 4: An Australian amateur gardener has been left devastated after watering a plant for two years, only to discover it's artificial. Caili Wilkes had a strict regime involving watering the plant at the same time every day and making sure it had the right amount of sunlight. It was only when she went to re-pot it that she discovered it was an ornament.

Echo: Pot the difference (2)
BBC: Never take things for planted (2)

MARCH 5: A mystery woman has enlisted the help of a North-East fast food shop to propose on the lid of a box delivering a parmo. The woman ordered the parmo from The Silver Cod Norton & asked staff to write WILL YOU MARRY ME? on the underside of the lid before delivering it to North Tees General Hospital.

Echo: Love on the box (2)
BBC: Cheesy lover (4)

The Northern Echo:

MARCH 6: Police in Melbourne are hunting a thief who stole a Versace necklace from a designer jewellery store by using a fishing rod. The criminal was able to poke the rod through a window, hook the necklace off the neck of a mannequin and reel it in.

Echo: Crook, line and sinker (4)
BBC: Deadly snatch (4)


March 9: Politicians call for calm after police were summoned to a supermarket in Sydney to break up a fight between three women over the last toilet roll amid panic over coronavirus.

Echo: But these tissue fights are the longest (0)
BBC: Rolling, rolling rollin, gets those toilet rolls in – backside! (6)

March 10: A student in Florida caused panic when he mistook a police pepper spray for his anti-perspirant in the school gym. The building had to be evacuated after the student sprayed himself all over and 41 pupils had to be treated for minor injuries.

Echo: Blunderarm deodorant (0)
BBC: Sergeant Pepper’s only armpit brand (8)

March 11: Magnus, the labrador, has become an internet star because of the way he helps his owner go through his fitness routines in New York.

Echo: Pet’s get physical (2)
BBC: Couch to five canine (8)

March 12: A mum in Leeds has revealed that her son has been suspended from school for selling squirts of hand sanitiser to other pupils for 50p a go. He made £9 and spent it on buying a kebab. The suspension has caused a furore on social media with people saying he should be applauded for being an entrepreneur.

Echo: It’s a doner deal (2)
BBC: What a little squirt (9)

The Northern Echo:

March 13: A man known as "The Devon Pirate" is to have a spectacular send-off after dying at the age of 63. Clive Mencarini was a huge fan of the Brixham Pirate Festival and his family have arranged for his ashes to be fired out to sea from a cannon on the main stage at the event on May 2.

Echo: The Blast Hurraaaaagh! (3)
BBC: Shiver me embers (9)


March 16: Police in Florida have issued 'Wanted' posters in a bid to catch a cow that's been on the loose for three months because it's too fast to be caught and keeps outrunning them.

Echo: Moo Farah (0)
BBC: Catch a moo moo (2)

March 17: A new world record has been set for the deepest underground music concert. The Shaft Bottom Boys played the gig at 6,213 feet below sea level at Vale’s Creighton Mine in Ontario, where they drill for nickel.

Echo: We drill, we drill, rock you (2)
BBC: I love rock and hole (1)

The Northern Echo:

March 18: An American woman has revealed on the internet that she has spent the past few days mistakenly washing her hands with a block of cheese.
Miley from Vancouver, thought she was doing her bit to combat coronavirus by thoroughly washing her hands with a bar of soap.

Echo: Cheesy lather (2)
BBC: Imperial Cheddar (2)

March 19: A cat nicknamed Hercule Poirot because of its distinctive black moustache is looking for a new home. The pussy is recovering at an RPSCA animal hospital in Putney after fracturing its legs in a fall.

Echo: Purr-der on the Orient Express (4)
BBC: Mog-atha Christie (2)

March 20: When farmer Kris Garrett realised his 11 chickens were getting bored, he attached a xylophone to their coop in Colorado and discovered they had musical talents.

Echo: Cluck ‘n spiel (5)
BBC: Le beak, le chic (2)


March 23: A Plymouth vicar, The Reverend Stephen Beach, accidentally set himself on fire when he got too close to the candles during an online sermon. Luckily, he wasn't hurt.

Echo: A Blazing Grace (0)
BBC: Smoke on the altar (2)

March 24: Dogs the world over can't stop wagging their tails with happiness because their owners are having to spend more time at home with them. One pet pooch, called Rolo, from Essex, wagged so hard, he's sprained his tail.

Echo: Waggy Schnauzers (0)
BBC: Try a wiggle tenderness (4)

The Northern Echo:

March 25: Police on the Spanish island of Mallorca have been serenading citizens in quarantine.

Echo: Living La Vida lockdown (2)
BBC: Don’t stand so close to me (by The Police) (4)

March 26: A lonely man living in isolation in New York managed to flirt with a girl he saw dancing on a nearby apartment rooftop by sending her his telephone number by drone and asking if she'd like to meet when the coronavirus crisis is over. She sent Jeremy Cohen a text back saying YES.

Echo: Droner of a lonely heart (4)
BBC: Love is in the air (4)

March 27: A Mexican man in isolation has started sending his dog to the shopping. It began when Antonio Munoz attached a letter and a $20 note to the collar of his pet chihuahua called Chokis and the pooch returned from the nearby shop with the requested bag of crisps.

Echo: Fleas and onion (4)
BBC: Barkin’ hunt (6)


March 30: On May 16, a crescent moon, beneath Venus and Jupiter, will form a smiley face in the sky. Sadly, it will only be visible from the USA and Canada, but we can still all smile along.

Echo: Put on a happy space