A+E Networks UK is pulling reality competition The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker from Sky History amid controversy over whether a contestant’s tattoos were connected to symbols of white supremacy.
Sky History, the joint-venture UK television channel from A+E Networks and Comcast-backed Sky, had temporarily removed episodes of the series produced by Big Wheel Film & Television and Motion Content Group last week and announced it would be conducting an investigation, which has apparently concluded.
In a statement, a spokesperson for A+E Networks UK said: “A contestant’s tattoos included symbols that could be connected to far-right ideologies and could cause offense; we sincerely apologize 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.”
On Oct. 19, Sky History uploaded a trailer to its Twitter page in which host Lee Mack introduces Darren Lumsden (pictured) to fans.
Lumsden has the number 88 tattooed on his right cheek. The numerical code serves as one of the most common white supremacist symbols that signifies “Heil Hitler,” according to The Anti-Defamation League.
Sky History was quick to issue a statement to various media outlets that hoped to clarify the incident as a coincidence, noting that Lumsden’s tattoos denoted “significant events in his life and have no political or ideological meaning whatsoever,” adding that “1988 is the year of his father’s death.”
However, various Twitter users — including geneticist Dr. Adam Rutherford, author of How To Argue With a Racist – have potentially identified further symbols associated with the white supremacist movement tattooed on Lumsden’s person.
A spokesperson for Big Wheel Film & TV said: “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.
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. Now that the independent investigation into Darren Lumsden’s tattoos has concluded, no further comment will be made from Big Wheel Film & Television in relation to this matter.”
The Chop (9 x 60 minutes) invites 10 carpenters to craft items and artifacts around different historical themes to furnish a grand cabin in the woods with the hopes of being crowned Britain’s top woodworker.
With files from Daniele Alcinii