The Chop: Sky TV carpentry show cancelled over contestant's tattoos

Image source, Sky History
Image caption,
Promotional image for The Chop featuring Rick Edwards, Lee Mack and carpenter William Hardie

Sky will not broadcast its 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 series has now been cancelled.

The participant was accused of having Nazi symbols on his face, but he denies they have any such meanings.

Sky History apologised and said it was "thoroughly reviewing" its processes.

A statement said AETN UK, which runs the channel, had "made the decision not to broadcast any further episodes of The Chop on Sky History" following an "independent investigation".

It said: "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."

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The Chop: Britain's Top Woodworker, hosted by Lee Mack and Rick Edwards, was due to have followed 10 contestants as they competed over nine weeks of carpentry challenges.

But concerns were first raised when the channel posted a clip on social media last week.

Darren Lumsden, from North Somerset, was seen with the number 88 on his cheek. As H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, the number can be used by white supremacists as numerical code for "Heil Hitler".

Viewers also pointed out other markings that could be associated with white supremacist slogans.

Sky History initially said his tattoos denoted "significant events in his life and have no political or ideological meaning whatsoever". It said the number 88 referred to 1988, the year of Mr Lumsden's father's death.

However, Lumsden's father is still alive, according to The Sun and The Daily Mail, who both claimed to have tracked him down.

In its initial statement, the channel said producers had carried out "extensive background checks" on all contestants and "confirmed Darren has no affiliations or links to racist groups, views or comments".

However, that statement was deleted and a separate announcement said the channel would investigate the tattoos' "nature, and meaning".

The BBC has approached Mr Lumsden for comment. Speaking to the Bristol Post about his tattoos in an article published before the furore erupted, he said: "I have my daughter on the back of my head and my son on my cheek.

"When some people first meet me they are a bit shocked, admittedly. But they soon warm to me after a few minutes."

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