The Chop: Sky axes woodwork talent show featuring carpenter with Nazi and white supremacist tattoos

Broadcaster launches investigation and pulls show from air after initially defending contestant 

Liam James
Wednesday 21 October 2020 17:01 BST
Sky History features man with Nazi tattoos on new woodwork talent show, The Chop

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Sky's history channel has axed a new woodwork talent programme after trailer featuring a contestant with Nazi and white supremacist symbols tattooed on his face sparked outrage.

The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker, presented by Rick Edwards and comedian Lee Mack, had drawn 10 of the country’s "best carpenters, carvers and woodworkers” to compete in a series of tasks in a format similar to The Great British Bake Off.

The first of eight episodes aired on Sky History last week but the rest of the series has been halted indefinitely as the broadcaster investigates contestant Darren Lumsden, who caused alarm after viewers spotted symbols commonly used by far-right extremists inked on his face.

At least three of his tattoos were of numbers known to be commonly used as code for neo-Nazi and white supremacist messages, including the number 88, often used as a numerical code for “Heil Hitler”, with “H” being the eighth letter in the alphabet.

The Anti-Defamation League describes this as “one of the most common white supremacist symbols”.

Along with the numbers, Mr Lumsden, a joiner from Bristol, appears to have a Sig rune – a symbol often mistaken for a lightning bolt which the Nazis used to symbolise victory  – tattooed on the right side of his nose. 

Twitter users first raised concerns about the facial artwork after Sky History posted a promotional video for the series online.

The broadcaster at first defended Mr Lumsden, claiming the similiarity between his tattoos and Nazi symbols was “entirely incidental” and background check had confirmed he had "no affiliations or links to racist groups, views or comments".

However, it later pulled the programme from air and launched an investigation.

“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 episodes of The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker until we have concluded that investigation,” it said in a statement.

“Sky History stands against racism and hate speech of all kinds.”

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