Woodwork show 'The Chop' cancelled after tattoo controversy

Julia Hunt
·Contributor
·3 min read
Darren Lumsden's (right) tattoos caused controversy. (© A&E Television Networks 1996-2020. All rights reserved.)
Darren Lumsden's (right) tattoos caused controversy. (© A&E Television Networks 1996-2020. All rights reserved.)

TV carpentry contest The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker will not be broadcast after a contestant was accused of having Nazi symbols tattooed on his face.

Viewers spoke out after Darren Lumsden, a father-of-two from Bristol whose face, head and neck are covered in tattoos, was featured in a trailer for The Chop earlier this month.

The show – hosted by comedian Lee Mack - was put on pause and Sky History announced that it would investigate “the nature and meaning” of the markings.

The channel has now said that the series is being pulled.

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It said in a statement: “Following an independent investigation, AETN UK has made the decision not to broadcast any further episodes of The Chop on Sky History.

Darren Lumsden was due to appear on new woodwork show 'The Chop' (Sky History)
Darren Lumsden was due to appear on new woodwork show 'The Chop' (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.”

When Lumsden was seen in the trailer, viewers said they spotted an “88” on his cheek and pointed out that the number is known to be a right-wing symbol. H is the 8th letter of the alphabet and so the number 88 has been known to be used in white nationalist or neo-Nazi circles as code to mean “Heil Hitler”.

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Viewers also said they saw the numbers 23 and 16 tattooed on the contestant’s temples – which they interpreted as code for “WP”, or White Power.

Lumsden recently told the Bristol Post: “About 10 years ago I saw someone with facial tattoos and started to work with my tattooist on my look. I have my daughter on the back of my head and my son on my cheek.

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Lee Mack in a publicity still for The Chop. (© A&E Television Networks 1996-2020. All rights reserved.)
Lee Mack in a publicity still for The Chop. (© A&E Television Networks 1996-2020. All rights reserved.)

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

“Some people ask for selfies with me. I've never had a negative reaction to my tattoos. They are just me. I've already been stopped by people who have seen the adverts. No one went on the show to become famous.

“But hopefully it will come across on the show that I'm a bit of a character.”