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What does an 88 tattoo mean? Sky History’s The Chop controversy explained

Olivia Olphin October 30, 2020
What does an 88 tattoo mean? Sky History’s The Chop controversy explained

What does an 88 tattoo mean? A new woodworking show on Sky History, The Chop, which was due to be be hosted by comedian Lee Mack, has been put on hold after a promotional clip featured a heavily tattooed man, nicknamed Darren the Woodman.

Some viewers claim the symbolism of one of the tattoos has links to neo-Nazism. But what is an 88 tattoo supposed to mean?

What does an 88 tattoo mean?

An 88 tattoo is a allegedly a neo-Nazi symbol of white supremacy. ADL, an anti-hate organisation, states: “88 is a white supremacist numerical code for ‘heil Hitler’. H is the eighth letter of the alphabet so 88 = HH = Heil Hitler.”

However, to confuse matters ADL also states 88 can be used in other contexts. It is used by some radio operators to mean ‘hugs’ or ‘kisses’ and is frequently used in NASCAR as a notable car number. This makes it that much harder to answer definitively what an 88 tattoo really means.

What is The Chop?

The Chop is a Bake Off-style show about woodworkers competing to be the best in Britain. It is described as “doing for carpentry and woodwork what The Great British Bake-Off did for cakes”.

Photo by Andrew Ruiz on Unsplash

While watching the promotional material, some viewers spotted a contestant, Darren Lumsden aka Darren the Woodman, who has the number 88 tattooed on his face.

According to Lumsden, what the 88 tattoo means is a commemoration of the year of his father’s death – 1988 – and doesn’t have any far-right connotations. In the meantime, however, the Daily Mail seem to have tracked down Lumsden’s father, Trevor, who they claim is alive.

Logically interviewed Jon Hyams, Lumsden’s previous employer. Darren worked for him in 2008 and Hyams said he was a “good kid”. Hyams added he couldn’t remember Lumsden having any far-right affiliations.

Is The Chop permanently chopped?

Sky History has axed the show for now, pending an investigation. The company stated: “Sky History stands against racism and hate speech of all kinds.”

The Sky History Twitter account tweeted: “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.

“Darren’s tattoos denote significant events in his life and have no political or ideological meaning whatsoever.” 

These tweets have since been deleted. Meanwhile, people have been discussing the row on on Twitter:

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Olivia Olphin is an English Literature graduate and a film and literature fanatic. She has many years of reviewing experience, recently working as accredited press for the London Film Festival. She has also written widely about culture and sex education, as well as LGBTQ+ and women's issues.