A TV carpentry talent show called The Chop has been cancelled after just one episode because a contestant had face tattoos “that could be connected to far-right ideologies”.
One episode had been shown but the series was halted after viewers spotted, in a trailer, symbols on the face of contestant Darren Lumsden which are commonly used by Nazi extremists. They included the number 88, often used as a numerical code for “Heil Hitler”, as in the eighth letter of the alphabet repeated.
At first the channel defended Lumsden, a joiner from Bristol, stating that similarity between his tattoos and Nazi symbols was “entirely incidental” and that background checks had confirmed he had no links or affiliations to racist groups or views.
It was said the number 88 referred to 1988, the year of Lumsden’s father’s death.
The Daily Mail subsequently tracked down Lumsden’s father Trevor, who lives close to his son and who declared to a reporter: “I’m here aren’t I? I’m alive and kicking, so I’m not dead yet.”
On Friday, Sky History said that following an investigation a decision had been taken by AETN UK not to broadcast any further episodes of the series on the channel.
It continued: “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.”
Lumsden, nicknamed The Woodman, was one of ten contestants facing carving, chopping and whittling challenges in Epping Forest, Essex. The eventual winner, “Britain’s top woodworker”, was to be rewarded with an exhibition at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, London.