Sky History has temporarily cancelled the further airing of their new show The Chop following viewer outrage at a contestant’s tattoos – and their resemblance to Neo-Nazi symbolism.
The premise of the show is simple. A number of woodworking professionals are eliminated each week in a Great British Bake-off style competition to become Britain’s top woodworker, with the winner staging their own exhibition at the William Morris Gallery in London. However, the release of a promotional clip by Sky History on their Twitter page sparked a fury of disputes over one contestant’s tattoos.
Darren Lumsden, a carpenter from Bristol, was identified by a number of viewers as having tattoos expressing Neo-Nazi symbolism. These tattoos included the numerical codes of 88, 23, and 16 – which can be translated to Heil Hitler (88) and White Power (23 16) when substituting the numbers with their corresponding alphabetical values, HH and WP.
Further examples of these symbols seen on Lumsden’s body are 1/11 (AK – Aryan Knights) and 3/11 (KKK) if the same alphabetical code is followed. Dr. Adam Rutherford noted on Twitter that the number 109 reflects the claim that Jews have been expelled from 109 nations throughout history.
An Ongoing Investigation
Sky History has since attempted to dispel the Neo-Nazi rumours by noting that the 88 is a symbol of remembrance toward Lumsden’s late father, who died in 1988. However, due to the sheer number of tattoos present on Lumsden’s body that, coincidence or not, happen to indicate Neo-Nazi ideologies, the response appears to be an inadequate justification for viewers.
Following the outrage in response to the promotional video, Sky History has decided to postpone the release of the show while an investigation is completed into the meaning of Lumsden’s tattoos. In place of a synopsis for the show, the channel has issued a statement on the Sky History website declaring the presence of an ongoing investigation and a note that “Sky HISTORY stands against racism and hate speech of all kinds”.
“A Terrible Mistake”
This “terrible mistake”, as stated by a spokesperson for the channel, ironically comes following a slew of documentaries shown by Sky History in support and celebration of Black History Month, which carries added prominence this year in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.
The producers’ failure to identify the white supremacist nature of Lumsden’s tattoos through the filming of the show may have a negative effect on the legitimacy of the channel to continue to express support for minority lives and minority history. The non-committal nature of the statement given by the channel, and the absence of a formal apology made to viewers in regard to the controversy, may have a detrimental effect on the ratings and viewership incurred by the channel.
Words by Hattie Banfield
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