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Sky History’s The Chop gets the axe

Sky History in the UK will not air any more episodes of its original woodworking format The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker following controversy over one of the contestants’ face tattoos.

The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker contestant Darren Lumsden

The channel issued a statement this morning saying that following an investigation it had decided not to air the remaining episodes of the 9×60’ competition show.

The statement said: “A contestant’s tattoos included symbols that could be connected to far-right ideologies and could cause offence. We sincerely apologise for that and we are sorry that our processes did not prompt further investigation at an earlier stage.

“The contestant continues to strenuously deny that he has, or ever had, far-right leanings. We are thoroughly reviewing our internal processes following the investigation. AETN UK and Sky History stand against racism and hate speech of all kinds.”

The network unveiled the commission from Big Wheel Film and Television and Motion Content Group in June and the first episode had 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, users noticed he had a large ‘88’ tattooed 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. Mr Lumsden’s father, Trevor, then approached The Daily Mail newspaper to confirm he was actually still alive.

Sky History pulled the show from its schedules pending an investigation, which led to today’s decision to not air the remaining episodes.

Producer Big Wheel Film & Television came out swinging this morning with a robust defence of its standards and practices around the show.

A spokesman for the company told C21: “Big Wheel Film & Television acted professionally, appropriately and in good faith throughout the making of The Chop, following robust due diligence and duty of care processes from casting through to delivery.

“All issues, problems and concerns identified in relation to Darren Lumsden’s tattoos during production were fully reported up to AETN, and the broadcaster’s directives and instructions in response were closely followed. Big Wheel Film & Television co-operated fully with the independent investigation put in place by AETN, and shared details of relevant processes, discussions and exchanges, along with supporting evidence and documentation.

“Big Wheel Film & Television stands against all forms of hatred and intolerance, is committed to the highest professional standards and strives at all times to treat people fairly.”

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