A+E Networks has taken its Sky HISTORY reality contest The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker off air while it investigates the meaning behind the face tattoos of one of its contestants, Darren Lumsden, following claims they contain white supremacist symbols.
The Chop, hosted by comedian Lee Mack and Rick Edwards, screens on Sky HISTORY and the woodwork reality contest premiered last Thursday.
The symbols which have drawn complaints include “88”, which white supremacists have co-opted to signify “Heil Hitler”.
Lumsden AKA The Woodman says the symbols were just an unhappy conincidence and the “88” refers to the year in which his father died.
A+E Network said in a new statement: “While we 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. Sky HISTORY stands against racism and hate speech of all kinds.”
The original complaints started on Twitter on Monday, according to Deadline, when Sky HISTORY posted a social media clip which included Lumsden.
Soon after the complaints were made, A+E Networks released a statement that the “88” and other contentious symbols were an unhappy coincidence.
A company spokesperson 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.”
Geneticist Dr Adam Rutherford suggested the 88 and other symbols on Lumsden’s face were common in white supremacist circles.
He tweeted: “A quick thread on white supremacy symbols – I spend a lot of time on white supremacy forums online, and they have dozens of really idiotic numerical codes.”