A&E Networks said it will not broadcast the Sky History show The Chop: Britain's Top Woodworker pending an investigation into claims that contestant Darren Lumsden has neo-Nazi face tattoos.
The decision came after the Sky History channel defended Lumsden when viewers online suggested his choice of tattoos had connections with neo-Nazism and white supremacy.
In a 48-second introductory clip, Lumsden described himself as “patient to a degree,” but what raised eyebrows was his array of tattoos, which include the number 88 on his right cheek. With the letter "H" being the eighth in the alphabet, "88" is regarded as the numerical symbol for "heil Hitler," according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Lumsden also has tattoos of the numbers 23 and 16 on his temples. The two numbers often appear together to denote "white power."
Some viewers also took issue with the tattoo on his upper lip, which reads "homegrown," a sentiment that could be interpreted as nationalistic.
Addressing the concerns on Twitter, Sky History initially issued a statement in support of Lumsden, insisting that the father of two had been properly vetted by the production company and his tattoos carried deeply personal meanings.
“Darren’s tattoos denote significant events in his life and have no political or ideological meaning whatsoever. Amongst the various numerical tattoos on his body, 1988 is the year of his father’s death,” the channel said. “The production team carried out extensive background checks on all the woodworkers taking part in the show, that confirmed Darren has no affiliations or links to racist groups, views or comments.
“Sky HISTORY is intolerant of racism and all forms of hatred and any use of symbols or numbers is entirely incidental and not meant to cause harm or offence.”
In a statement to Deadline, A&E Networks, which runs Sky History jointly with Comcast, said: "[While] we investigate the nature, and meaning, of Darren’s tattoos, we have removed the video featuring him from our social media pages, and will not be broadcasting any episodes of The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker until we have concluded that investigation.”
The Bristol woodworker is one of 10 contestants on The Chop, a competitive reality TV series that premiered last week and is hosted by British comedian Lee Mack, presenter Rick Edwards, and carpenter William Hardie.
His appearance made an impression on Mack. During their exchange, Lumsden introduced himself as "the Woodman," to which Mack replied, “If you were the bloke in my town, you wouldn’t be known as the woodman; you’d be the bloke with all the tattoos. Surely they would take precedence.”
BuzzFeed News contacted representatives for Mack and the production company Big Wheel Film and Television for further comment.