UPDATE: A+E Networks UK has decided to take Sky History reality competition series The Chop off-air amid claims that contestant, Darren Lumsden, has white supremacist tattoos on his face. Here’s the latest 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.”
PREVIOUS: Sky History, the joint-venture UK television channel run by A+E Networks UK and Comcast-owned Sky, has defended a contestant on its new reality competition series The Chop after Twitter users accused him of having Nazi tattoos emblazoned on his face.
Sky History tweeted a promotional clip of The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker on Monday, featuring participant Darren Lumsden. Known as “The Woodman,” Lumsden has the number 88 clearly inked on his cheek, which is white supremacist numerical code for Heil Hitler.
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Twitter users seized on the clip, pointing out the tattoo and its meaning. Soon after, A+E Networks UK issued a statement explaining that the numbers are just an unhappy coincidence.
Is this the “history”, you idiots pic.twitter.com/tXlCctw5b9
— Dawn Foster (@DawnHFoster) October 20, 2020
“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,” a spokesman said.
“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.”
Deadline understands that producers at Big Wheel Film & Television and Motion Content Group spoke to Lumsden about the tattoo during production, while A+E Networks UK programming bosses had a subsequent conversation with the participant to interrogate the matter.
But it’s not just 88 that Twitter sleuths have identified as being problematic. Dr Adam Rutherford, a geneticist and author of How To Argue With a Racist, highlighted other potential Nazi symbolism inked on Lumsden’s face.
1/11 = AK = Aryan Knights
3/11 = 3 K = KKK
109 = the claim that Jews have been expelled from 109 nations throughout history, sometimes coupled with
110 = in the hope that the US will be the next one
— Dr Adam Rutherford (@AdamRutherford) October 20, 2020
The Chop is a Great British Bake Off-style format, in which 10 contestants will gather in Epping Forest and aim to whittle, carve and chop their way to success, with their creations furnishing a lavish cabin in the woods. The series premiered last Thursday.
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