Sky History has cancelled new woodworking reality show The Chop: Britain's Top Woodworker after viewers expressed concern that a contestant appeared to be sporting pro-Nazi/white supremacy tattoos.
Hosted by Lee Mack, Rick Edwards and woodwork specialist William Hardie, the series premiered on the channel earlier this month, but a clip introducing a woodworker named Darren was later shared on the Sky History Twitter page, sparking a backlash.
Contestant Darren's face is covered in tattoos, with a few in particular causing controversy among viewers who spotted that he had the number '88' tattooed on his cheek, as well as the numbers '16' and '23'.
The number '88' is a common white supremacist symbol representing the phrase 'Heil Hitler'. Similarly, the number 23 paired with the number 16 can translate to 'W/P' or 'white power'. The contestant has strenuously denied that he has any connection to far-right ideologies.
Following the backlash, A+E Networks decided to take the show off-air pending an investigation into the nature and meaning of Darren's tattoos, and it's now confirmed that it will not be airing the rest of the series.
The broadcaster 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.
"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."
The show's producer Big Wheel Film & Television also issued a statement, explaining: "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 A+E, 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 A+E, 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."
He didn't, but editing around him would be pretty much impossible given the format of the show.
— Rick Edwards (@rickedwards1) October 30, 2020
The show's host Rick Edwards later confirmed on Twitter that Darren didn't go on to win the whole series, but "editing around him would be pretty much impossible given the format of the show".
Speaking ahead of the show's premiere earlier this month, Darren told Bristol Live that he knows his tattoos can "shock" people but said that he's never had a negative reaction to them.
"I had other tattoos already, but about 10 years ago I saw someone with facial tattoos and started to work with my tattooist on my look," he explained.
"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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