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Sky History pulls The Chop over tattoo

Sky History in the UK has pulled its original competition format The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker because one of the contestants has face tattoos allegedly linked to white supremacists.

Darren Lumsden

The network, a joint venture between satcaster Sky and US channels operator A+E Networks, unveiled the commission from Big Wheel Film and Television and Motion Content Group in June and the first episode has already aired.

The 9×60’ series was one of the headline commissions for the channel following its rebrand and also marked a push into formats distribution for the first time for London-based funding and sales agency Drive.

However, when clips of competitor Darren Lumsden, a carpenter from Bristol, were promoted by the network on social media this week users noticed he had a large ‘88’ tattoo on his cheek. The number is known among white supremacists as code for ‘Heil Hitler,’ with H being the eighth letter of the alphabet.

Sky History initially put out a statement defending the programme, saying Mr Lumsden’s tattoos related to personal incidents in his life, and the 88 was a reference to the year of his father’s death.

The broadcaster said: “Darren’s tattoos denote significant events in his life and have no political or ideological meaning whatsoever. Amongst the various numerical tattoos on his body, 1988 is the year of his father’s death.

“The production team carried out extensive background checks on all the woodworkers taking part in the show, that confirmed Darren has no affiliations or links to racist groups, views or comments. Sky History is intolerant of racism and all forms of hatred and any use of symbols or numbers is entirely incidental and not meant to cause harm or offence.”

The story continued to spread on social media, however, with Twitter users pointing out that among Lumsden’s extensive head and face tattoos were also the numbers 23 and 16, used by some white supremacists as numerical code for ‘White Power.’

Last night, Sky History pulled the show, saying: “While we further investigate the nature, and meaning, of Darren’s tattoos, we have removed the video featuring him from our social media pages, and will not be broadcasting any episode of The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker until we have concluded that investigation. Sky History stands against racism and hate speech of all kinds.”

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