Model friend of 'The Chop' star says he's 'a big cuddly bear'

‘He’s NOT a Nazi’: Model friend, 38, of ‘The Chop’ star says he’s ‘a big cuddly bear and no racist’ after he said 88 tattoo is not link to Hitler but tribute to late father (who insists he’s very much ALIVE)

  • Carpenter Darren Lumsden is covered in face tattoos including the number 88
  • The father was set to appear on a now axed Sky History show called The Chop 
  • Viewers claimed 88 can be used as a code to represent ‘Heil Hitler’ by neo-Nazis 
  • Sky History said the 88 figure is in memory of his late father who died in 1988
  • But his father Trevor spoke to MailOnline today to insist ‘I’m alive’ 
  • Sasha Gardner appeared on another show with him and claimed he’s ‘no racist’ 
  • Do you know Darren or were you involved in the show? Email [email protected]

A model friend of Sky History’s The Chop contestant Darren Lumsden today said he’s ‘a big cuddly bear’ and ‘definitely wasn’t a Nazi or a racist’ when they appeared together on another reality show.  

Sky yesterday axed woodwork show The Chop before its first broadcast on Thursday after viewers spotted that Mr Lumsden appeared to have various ‘Nazi tattoos’ on his face. 

The channel said his face inking of the number 88 was in memory of the year his late father Trevor lost his life – and nothing to do with a code, fashioned around the numerical order of letters in the alphabet, meaning Heil Hitler.  

But today his 66-year-old parent revealed he was very much alive – and living in a smart three-storey house in Bristol, not far from his carpenter son.

Trevor told MailOnline: ‘I’m here aren’t I?’ I’m alive and kicking so I’m not dead yet.’

Personal trainer and actress Sasha Gardner, 38, met Mr Lumsden on a Channel 4 reality show called Dumped in 2007, in which contestants survived on other people’s rubbish in a landfill site for three weeks.

Father-of-two Darren Lumsden from Bristol, pictured, is competing on Sky History’s new show The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker. However, a trailer for the show featuring Darren sparked protests when some viewers suggested the ’88’ on his face was a ‘neo Nazi tattoo’

Ms Gardner said she was ‘really surprised’ when she saw the photographs of Mr Lumsden with his face tattoos, as ‘he was not the type of person he’s being described as when I met him.’ 

She added: ‘During the show he didn’t have any tattoos on his face but he definitely wasn’t a Nazi or a racist.   

‘I was quite surprised when I saw the pictures, he does look completely different.

‘My encounters with Darren were that he had a really strong character but he was genuine and gentle and not afraid to express his emotions.’ 

She insisted ‘you can have tattoos on your face and be the kindest, big cuddly bear,’ saying: ‘It’s a form of art and doesn’t have to mean anything other than what it means to you.’

However, Ms Gardner admitted she didn’t stay in touch with Mr Lumsden following their appearance on Dumped 13 years ago.   


Sasha Gardner (pictured), 38, met Mr Lumsden on a Channel 4 reality show called Dumped in 2007, in which contestants survived on other people’s rubbish in a landfill site for three weeks

Ms Gardner said she was ‘really surprised’ when she saw the photographs of Mr Lumsden with his Nazi-style face tattoos

‘We didn’t stay in touch but unless he’s changed since then, he definitely was not a racist at all. He never said anything about Nazis,’ she said.

‘Even though it was only a short time, you spend a lot of time with people in a situation like that and he was never a problem.’ 

Her comments come as Mr Lumsden’s father Trevor insisted ‘I’m alive and kicking’ after Sky said his son’s face inking of the number 88 was in memory of the year he died.    

Darren’s father has short term memory loss after a serious motorbike crash more than 30 years ago.

He lives in a shared house and has support workers popping in to help every day.

The father added: ‘I haven’t seen Darren for some years, I didn’t know he had tattoos over his face or that he was going to be on TV.

‘But if they are saying I’m dead I’d like them to know I’m not.’

Pictured: Mr Lumsden in Channel 4’s Dumped, before he got numerous face tattoos

Trevor, originally from Stockton-on-Tees had two sons, Darren with his former wife Gail and Wayne from another relationship.

His support worker, who didn’t want to be named, said: ‘I’ve never seen either of them and I’ve been looking after him for 10 years.

‘Trevor has short term memory loss after a brain injury in a motorbike accident but he remembers his two sons.

‘He’s a lovely man and very much alive.’

Sky History yesterday axed the new show before its first broadcast on Thursday after viewers spotted Darren appeared to have various ‘Nazi tattoos’ on his face. 

The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker, featuring comedian Lee Mack, had invited carpenters to test out their skills to be crowned Britain’s best. 

Hosted by Mack, Rick Edwards and master craftsmen William Hardie, the carpentry competition sees the 10 contestants compete over nine weeks in Epping forest, Essex, to whittle, carve and chop their way to the final, to see who will be crowed ‘Britain’s Top Woodworker’. 

The champion’s prize would have been the chance to stage their own exhibition at the prestigious William Morris Gallery in London. 

Darren Lumsden is seen with a prominent 88 on his cheek (circled bottom) and 23 and 16 allegedly inked at his temples representing the numerical equivalent of ‘white power’ (top)

Here the ’16’ can be seen, allegedly representing ‘white power when combined with the ’23’ on his other temple. And the number 14 is seen (circled top) representing ’14 words’ a popular white supremacist slogan

But after the channel tweeted a trailer introducing Darren, viewers were quick to single out one of his tattoos – a prominent ’88’ on his cheek – which they took as a right-wing symbol.

They said the number 88 in white nationalist or neo-Nazi circles can be used as a code to represent ‘Heil Hitler’, because ‘H’ is the 8th letter of the alphabet.

Viewers also spotted a number of other potential white supremacy symbols on Darren’s skin, including 23 and 16 inked at his temples, allegedly representing the numerical equivalent of ‘white power’. 

He was also accused of having a sig rune symbol – used by Nazis to symbolise victory and often mistaken as a lightning bolt – on the right side of his nose, and a number 14 on his scalp which can represent ’14 words’, a slogan coined by white supremacist terrorist David Lane.

However before announcing that they would not be broadcasting the show, the channel defended Darren’s tattoos, claiming that ‘1988 is the year of his father’s death’ and that the tattoos ‘have no political or ideological meaning’. 

The father-of-two, from Bristol is one of ten contestants on the now axed show, which was due to start on Thursday, and is filmed in Epping Forest. 

British geneticist and author of How To Argue With A Racist, Dr Adam Rutherford, confirmed that he had spotted several other numerical tattoos on Darren

British geneticist and author of How To Argue With A Racist, Dr Adam Rutherford, confirmed that he had spotted several other numerical tattoos that were likely to be white supremacy symbols.

He tweeted: ‘I spend a lot of time on white supremacy forums online, and they have dozens of really idiotic numerical codes, most of which are substitution ciphers that a 7 year old would come up with.

‘Darren appears to have these two on his face 88 = HH = Heil Hitler 23/16 = WP = White Supremacy There’s also: 18 = AH = Adolf Hitler 1488: a reference to the so-called 14 words, coined by white supremacist terrorist David Lane.’

He continued: ‘There’s also: 1/11 = AK = Aryan Knights 3/11 = 3 K = KKK 109 = the claim that Jews have been expelled from 109 nations throughout history, sometimes coupled with 110 = in the hope that the US will be the next one.’ 

During Lee Mack’s interview Mr Lumsden he commented on the amount of ink on the carpenter’s face after he introduced himself as ‘The Woodman’. 

The comedian said: ‘If you were in my town, you wouldn’t be known as the woodman, you’d be known as the man with all the tattoos, surely they would take precedence.’ 

Sky History released a short video featuring an interview between Mr Lumsden and show host Lee Mack where viewers noticed the tattoo

Mr Lumsden also has the figures 23 and 16 on his temples. These figures are also often used by the far right as a coded reference to White Power 

Many people on Twitter expressed concern about Mr Lumsden’s facial tattoos, including the 88 figure

Many people noticed the link between the figure 88 and white supremacist terminology though Sky History claim there is an innocent explanation 

Sky History defended Mr Lumsden on Twitter claiming they have carried out extensive background checks and have found nothing to link him to any racist groups, views or comments

The interview was met with negative tweets, including one from Luke O’Riordan calling the channel ‘morons’ and asking: ‘Are you for real. The bloke has Nazi tattoos on his face ffs.’ 

Sky History said there was an innocent explanation for the number, but axed the show hours later.

Sky History tweeted: ‘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 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. ‘

They later added: ‘While we investigate the nature & meaning of Darren’s tattoos we have removed the video featuring him from our social media, & will not be broadcasting any eps of The Chop until we have concluded that investigation. Sky HISTORY stands against racism & hate speech of all kinds.’

Sky History regularly features documentaries on the Second World War, such as Hitler’s Gold and Hitler’s Last Secrets. 

Speaking to The Bristol Post on October 15, Mr Lumsden said: ‘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.

‘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.’ 

The Campaign Against Antisemitism expressed concern about the tattoos. 

A spokesperson for the group said: ‘Sky HISTORY has made a terrible mistake by including in ‘The Chop’ an individual adorned with what appear to be neo-Nazi tattoos without providing serious evidence to show that the tattoos mean something other than how they appear. 

‘These tattoos will be plainly visible to viewers on the show, including younger viewers, which is unacceptable. 

‘If Sky HISTORY is indeed ‘intolerant of racism’ as it claims, then it must urgently provide a credible clarification or remove the contestant from the programme.’

The show’s production company have not responded to requests for a comment.

Sky History today thanked MailOnline for highlighting The Chop contestant Darren Lumsden’s apparent lie about the origin of his controversial tattoos.

A spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Thanks the heads up and sorry for the late reply.

‘I have read the article and have passed it on to the investigating team.

‘There is no further comment to make at this stage.’

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