Sky History has cancelled its reality TV carpentry contest The Chop after an investigation into a contestant’s face tattoos found they “could be connected to far-right ideologies”.
The first episode aired earlier this month but the rest of the show will no longer be broadcast.
Contestant Darren Lumsden was accused of having Nazi tattoos inked across his face, including the number “88”, which is a white supremacist numerical code for HH/Heil Hitler. Lumsden has denied that his tattoos have any such meaning, as well as any association with far-right groups.
In a statement from AETN UK, which runs the channel, a spokesperson said, “Following an independent investigation, AETN UK has made the decision not to broadcast any further episodes of The Chop on Sky History. 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.”
While we investigate the nature & meaning of Darren’s tattoos we have removed the video featuring him from our social media, & will not be broadcasting any eps of The Chop until we have concluded that investigation. Sky HISTORY stands against racism & hate speech of all kinds.
— Sky HISTORY (@HISTORYUK) October 20, 2020
It added, “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.”
A spokesperson for the company initially denied that Darren’s tattoos had “any political or ideological meaning”, insisting they “denoted significant events in his life”.
“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,” they said in a statement last week.
The Chop was hosted by comedian Lee Mack, presenter Rick Edwards, and carpenter William Hardie, and featured 10 contestants gathered in Epping Forest to create furnishings for a cabin in the woods.