Sky History, the joint-venture UK television channel run by A+E Networks UK and Comcast-owned Sky, has canceled its reality competition series The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker after questions arose over whether a contestant had Nazi tattoos emblazoned on his face.
A+E Networks UK took The Chop off-air last week pending an investigation into Darren Lumsden’s ink. That investigation has concluded that the series cannot return to screens because the symbols on Lumsden’s face “could be connected to far-right ideologies and could cause offence.”
Prominent among Lumsden’s markings is the number 88, which is white supremacist numerical code for Heil Hitler. The carpenter has denied any association with far-right groups and said the 88 symbolizes the year of his father’s death. Doubt has been cast over this claim, however, after the MailOnline discovered that Lumsden’s father is alive and well.
An A+E Networks UK spokesman 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.
“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 Chop producer Big Wheel Film & Television also issued a statement saying that it acted in good faith throughout the making of the Sky History show and cooperated fully with the investigation.
“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,” a spokesman said.
“All issues, problems and concerns identified in relation to Darren Lumsden’s tattoos during production were fully reported up to AETN UK, 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 UK, 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.”
Only one episode in the nine-part series aired. The Chop was hosted by comedian Lee Mack, presenter Rick Edwards, and carpenter William Hardie. In a Great British Bake Off-style format, 10 contestants gathered in Epping Forest and aim to whittle, carve and chop their way to success, with their creations furnishing a lavish cabin in the woods.
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