SKY has been caught up in a row after a contestant on Lee Mack's new show had to deny he's got "Nazi tattoos" on his face.
Sky History released a clip from The Chop: Britain's Top Woodworker – which sees ten of "the country's finest carpenters" compete in a series of challenges for the woodworking crown.
The video introduces Darren, with the channel's Twitter account captioning it: "Meet the Woodman, the Bloke-With-All-The-Tattoos or Darren as we like to call him. #TheChop."
Viewers-including comedian Katherine Ryan – claimed they spotted what they took to be Neo-Nazi tattoos on his face and posted on Twitter to denounce the show.
However, David insists that 1988 is the year of his father's death and they are not Nazi tattoos.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, 88 is a white supremacist numerical code for "Heil Hitler".
The website reads: "H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 = HH = Heil Hitler."
They state it is one of the most common white supremacist symbols.
Above his top lip, Darren has the words "Homegrown" tattooed.
A spokesperson for Sky News told The Sun Online: "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."
Talking ahead of his appearance on the Sky show, Darren said of his inkings: “About ten 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."
Fans – including Netflix star and comedian Katherine Ryan – were horrified and claimed the contestant has 'Neo-Nazi tattoos on his face'.
She wrote: "'White men can’t get on TV anymore’…..this one literally has Nazi tattoos on his face and is on TV.'"
Another viewer wrote: "The bloke with the neo nazi tattoos. I thought you were the history channel."
A third added: "Are you for real? The bloke has Nazi tattoos on his face ffs. Sky ‘History’ indeed. Morons. Face with rolling eyes"
In the beginning of the clip, Darren says: "I am patient. To a degree. So if there's gonna be people getting in my way, there might be fireworks."
Then later to presenter Lee Mack, he says: "So I'm known as The Woodman. So I turn up and say, 'I am The Woodman."
Lee then jokes: "I'm not going to lie to you Darren, 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 that takes precedence over The Woodman."
The Chop is hosted by comedian Lee Mack, TV presenter Rick Edwards and Master Carpenter William Hardie.
It sees ten contestants compete for the title of Britain's Top Woodworker in Epping Forest.
TV vet Noel Fitzpatrick: How malpractice row over bionic tortoise drove me to the brink
TV vet Noel Fitzpatrick reveals today how he fell into a deep depression after being accused of malpractice over his treatment of a tortoise.
The star of Channel 4’s series The Supervet fitted three bionic limbs to a Hermann’s tortoise called Hermes to replace those chewed off by rats during hibernation.
After discussing euthanasia with the owner, he performed surgery, believing Hermes could live another 50 years and because it was done with his ‘best interests in our hearts’.
The star of Channel 4’s series The Supervet fitted three bionic limbs to a Hermann’s tortoise called Hermes to replace those chewed off by rats during hibernation
But a few months later, at the end of 2018, after Hermes died at home of a seemingly unrelated condition, four vets lodged an official complaint.
As the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons investigated, the 52-year-old faced losing his career and was left ‘crying behind closed doors while putting on a smile to face the world’.
In an extract from his new book, How Animals Saved My Life: Being The Supervet, in today’s You magazine, he says: ‘The complainants maintained I had put self-promotion above my commitment to the health and welfare of my patient and requested a full disciplinary hearing.
As the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons investigated, the 52-year-old faced losing his career and was left ‘crying behind closed doors while putting on a smile to face the world’
‘Depending on the outcome, I could face a suspension or even be struck off, meaning I would no longer be allowed to practice veterinary medicine, which had been the central purpose of my life for as long as I could remember.
As the investigation process began, I sank into a big cloud of depression. And in spite of seeking professional help, it wouldn’t budge.’
The change came when he broke his neck in a fall. Immobile in hospital, he realised his brush with death prevented him using work to escape his problems any more.
He adds: ‘I wondered if some giant hand of fate had pushed me down the stairs to force me to deal with the growing horde of emotional demons in my head.
‘I was trapped inside my own body for the first time in my life, unable to move, unable to escape the thoughts that crashed around in my head, which normally would have been sublimated into simply working harder.’
When the malpractice investigation concluded in January this year, it found that although euthanasia should have been recommended as the best option, there had been no serious professional misconduct.
With the case closed, he could concentrate on recovering, which meant wearing a neck brace and moving as little as possible for months.
Around this time, his girlfriend Michaela found Ricochet – a five-month-old kitten with ‘a bent front leg, cross-eyes, an ear infection and quirky personality’.
‘He needed someone who would love him as he was,’ the vet says.
‘It was love at first sight. In retrospect, it almost feels as though Ricochet was sent to save me – and when he found me, I needed rescuing very badly.’
He says Ricochet and his border terrier Keira stayed by his side during his recovery and lockdown, adding: ‘The all-consuming love I felt when I gave Keira or Ricochet a cuddle kept me from going out of my mind. I felt the unbridled joy of that unconditional love every day, and still do.’
Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick: ‘I was a whisker away from death’
By Jane Wharton for the Mail on Sunday
TV’s celebrated Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick had spent almost 30 years caring for animals. Then a series of terrible events threatened to rob him of the career he loves – and even his life…
Two years ago, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, the orthopaedic-neuro veterinary surgeon, was flying high. His ground-breaking surgery and practice, Fitzpatrick Referrals, was the subject of Channel 4’s The Supervet. He’d just finished a sellout UK tour, sharing with audiences what it was like to be The Supervet, and thought he’d found his true purpose.
And then, as he reveals in this exclusive extract from his new book, everything he had ever believed in came crashing down.
I have internalised all kinds of pain in my life, some of which I can now talk about but some of which remains buried in the recesses of time. Many of us pretend to be able to ‘deal with stuff’ – we carry on with a semblance of sanity in our lives, so no one would ever guess our trauma. But for most of us, somewhere inside, the demons lurk.
Earlier this year I was at an all-time low. I’d lost all self-respect. I was crying behind closed doors while putting on a smile to face the world, or just being quiet, insular and uncommunicative with my work colleagues. Some days it would be OK and I’d be happy enough going about my work with consultations and surgery; on other occasions, it was like I had woken up under a blanket of despair that would cloud my vision all day.
Noel and his patient odin the doberman in their neck braces – for both of them, their spinal injuries could have been fatal
It all started at the end of 2018. I’d received a thick white envelope with the letters RCVS [Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons] printed in bold blue ink. Four fellow veterinarians, none of whom I had ever met, had accused me of malpractice. They said I’d not acted in the best interests of an animal who, in their view, should have been euthanised.
Hermes, a Hermann tortoise, had had three of his legs eaten off by rats during hibernation. His lovely owner, Helen, a critical care nurse and one of the most compassionate people I have ever met, had rescued and looked after him. Helen and I had discussed the situation and whether euthanasia might be the most appropriate ethical choice many times. In the end, Helen opted for surgery to apply three bionic limbs. With Hermes’s best interests in all our hearts and minds, I was tasked with providing him with his new limbs, because I was the only person at that point who had the knowledge and experience to do so. It is complicated, because the case with Hermes was unprecedented and there were no rules for the application of bionic limbs to tortoises. Had he not died, very sadly, at home, two months after the surgery – of an unforeseen and seemingly unrelated condition – Hermes might have outlived me.
Noel today with his rescue cat ricochet and beloved border terrier Keira
The complainants maintained I had put self-promotion above my commitment to the health and welfare of my patient, and requested a full disciplinary hearing. Depending on the outcome, I could face a suspension or even be struck off, meaning I would no longer be allowed to practise veterinary medicine, which had been the central purpose of my life for as long as I could remember.
As the investigation process began, I sank into a black cloud of depression. And in spite of seeking professional help, it wouldn’t budge. My sleep was affected terribly. On one night earlier this year, I got up and shuffled from the bed to the bathroom in a state of almost sleepwalking as I had done a million times before. There is a steep flight of stairs right next to my bathroom and although I don’t remember the beginning of the fall, halfway down I partially woke as my ribs and then my arm crashed against the sharp step edges. As I collided with the wall, I heard a crack, which echoed through my ears, then the momentum sent me rolling up into a ball at the foot of the stairs. The moment I heard the crack, I knew exactly what it meant – I had broken my neck. I wasn’t paralysed, and for that I was immediately grateful, but I was in agony.
As I lay in hospital, my girlfriend Michaela sitting by my side, I wondered if some giant hand of fate had pushed me down the stairs to force me to deal with the growing horde of emotional demons in my head. I was trapped inside my own body for the very first time in my life, unable to move, unable to escape the thoughts that crashed around in my head, which normally would have been sublimated into simply working harder.
People run away from confronting their problems in all kinds of different ways. I chose workaholism. I sacrificed quite a lot of my personal life but got to save as many animals as possible along the way so it always somehow seemed like a price worth paying. However, it was still addictive-avoidant behaviour, and I realised that I hadn’t respected myself for quite some time.
I found out later that I’d been just a whisker from permanent incapacitation or death. Had I twisted my neck another four or five millimetres, I could have irreparably damaged my spinal cord and been tetraplegic, and apparently the mortality rate associated with uncontrolled falls like mine is alarmingly high. I was a lucky man; I just didn’t know it as I lay there caught between fear and anger.
My consultant neurosurgeon Matthew Crocker and I agreed that there was a reasonable chance I could avoid surgery if I was very cautious, rested and remained as immobile as possible. I went home, forced into self-confinement with my neck in a brace.
Luckily, earlier that month, Michaela had found a gorgeous five-month-old kitten with a bent front leg, an ear infection, cross eyes and a ‘quirky’ personality who needed a home with someone who would love him as he was and help him when he needed it. ‘They’re perfect souls for each other,’ she thought the first time she laid eyes on him, and she was right. It was love at first sight. In retrospect, it almost feels as though Ricochet was sent to save me – and when he found me, I needed rescuing very badly indeed.
Now Ricochet was on my lap purring, playing with the Velcro straps on my collar and telling me to stop complaining because, of course, he had been in a collar as well and had no sympathy for my plight – since having his balls cut off had been much worse than me breaking my neck!
…and at ‘home’, his veterinary surgery in surrey
During my recovery throughout early March this year, I was regularly in touch with my friend Russell Brand. He was one of very few people with whom I had discussed my anxiety about the complaints regarding Hermes the tortoises’s treatment. He had been a good friend to me during this crisis. His cat Morrissey (or Mossy) had been diagnosed with chronic kidney failure by his primary care vet. After the surgery to save his life, Morrissey had initially rallied and improved, but now a few weeks later, in spite of our collective efforts with surgery and medication, he was slowly wasting away due to the chronic kidney failure that had not stabilised. We both knew there was no way we could allow Mossy to suffer.
For Russell, Mossy had been a witness and a confidant during all of his struggles [Russell has suffered drug, alcohol and sex addiction]. Mossy was the friend who had first come into his life when he had nothing, and stood by his side, or rather curled up on his knee, through it all. We both knew we could not let him down. We agreed that when the time was right, Russell would call me. I have intense respect for the cycle of life, but I was profoundly sad when the phone call came. We both knew that it was time to let him go.
With the blessing of my doctors, I could take the collar off for short periods. I drove to the practice to pick up some things and get ready to drive over to Russell’s house to facilitate poor Morrissey’s peaceful passage from this world. I looked at the stethoscope in my hands – which I’d used so many thousands of times to diagnose, to deliberate, to reassure, to face desolation and to deliver compassion – and thought how strange it is that this tool is used both to detect the beginning of life and to confirm death. I have put to sleep countless animals, but I have never done it without deference and respect for life and for the spirit of that animal.
But then the phone rang. Russell’s prayers had been answered and Morrissey had died naturally and peacefully. In many ways, through his companionship, Morrissey had saved Russell’s life as a recovering addict, and so it was almost as if, when Russell had made the decision to let him go, Morrissey had been able to stop fighting his inevitable fate and, as a final blessing for his daddy, saved him from the responsibility of taking his life.
When the time comes for me to lose Keira, my beloved border terrier, who is now 13, I honestly don’t know how I’m going to cope. During my confinement, first with my broken neck and then with lockdown, I’ve experienced waves of love for my little animal friends quite like never before. During that difficult time the all-consuming love I felt when I gave Keira or Ricochet a cuddle kept me from going out of my mind. I felt the unbridled joy of that unconditional love every day, and still do. I never want it to happen, but of course, when the time comes that Keira and Ricochet are no longer around, my love for them will never die.
My recovery was the first time I’d had an extended period away from the practice and it was wonderful to walk back through the doors in spring this year, immensely grateful that I could walk and that I was alive at all.
I loved and respected that place so very much. The practice wasn’t just a building: it was my home and that of the family I had chosen to bring with me on the journey. This place was my baby, and to a very large extent its cradle was my comfort and my protector, too.
My phone buzzed again with a message about an operation I was performing the following day – my first day back at work in six weeks. We were operating on emergencies only and my emergency was Odin, a beautiful doberman that I had already operated on twice for a spinal problem. He had been doing well but sadly had taken a turn for the worse again. The screws were loosening in one of his vertebrae to the point that a big hole had formed in the bone. He was on a knife-edge of collapse.
I’d never operated for a third time on a cervical spine in my entire career, and, ironically, it was in exactly the same region where I’d fractured my own neck. My neck brace was finally coming off the following morning, because Odin needed my help. This was an emergency and only I could try to fix it.
I was probably imagining things, but it seemed that the universe itself had conspired to offer me a chance for some peace and the self-respect of knowing I was doing my best. Tomorrow was another day.
I drove home to my own animal family, acutely aware that all of my physical and emotional pain would pass, as would my body someday – love would be all that remained – and that would be enough.
With friend Russell Brand in 2017, who noel confided in during his difficult time at work
Thankfully, Odin’s operation went on to be a complete success. The evening after the surgery, I went to see him in the wards and gave him a cuddle as I contemplated just how close we had both come to death and feeling very grateful for second chances.
The malpractice accusation finally concluded in January this year. While the Preliminary Investigation Committee felt euthanasia for Hermes should have been recommended as the best option, it acknowledged there was no realistic possibility of proving that Noel had not communicated with other veterinary surgeons to ensure Hermes’s health and welfare. It did not consider that Noel’s conduct fell so far below the standard as to constitute serious professional misconduct. They closed the case.
This is an edited extract from How Animals Saved My Life: Being the Supervet by Noel Fitzpatrick, which will be published on 29 October by Trapeze, price £20. Order a copy for £10 until 1 November at whsmith.co.uk by entering code YOUNOEL at checkout. Book number: 9781409183792. terms and conditions: whsmith.co.uk/terms.
Mother taking on Britain’s biggest gender clinic in landmark court battle to prevent them injecting her autistic daughter, 16, with sex-change drugs says she wants to prevent youngsters making ‘catastrophic’ decisions
A mother taking a gender clinic to court to prevent it giving sex-change drugs to her autistic daughter says she wants to prevent youngsters making ‘catastrophic’ decisions that they live to regret.
The woman, who can only be called ‘Mrs A’ for legal reasons, fears her 16-year-old daughter will be fast-tracked for transgender medical treatment once she is seen by clinicians at the Gender Identity Development Service in London.
She says they will simply ‘affirm’ the girl’s belief – mistaken in her mother’s opinion – that she is really a boy. In reality, Mrs A believes her daughter’s desire to be male is driven by having Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism.
The woman, who can only be called ‘Mrs A’ for legal reasons, fears her 16-year-old daughter will be fast-tracked for transgender medical treatment once she is seen by clinicians at the Gender Identity Development Service in London
‘This is bigger than just my child. The whole narrative is that if your child is confused about their gender, then transition is the only course of action,’ she told The Mail on Sunday.
‘There doesn’t seem to be any discussion of other possibilities. And that’s quite frightening.’
The married, middle-aged mother thinks gender experts have no real idea which of their young patients are ‘truly’ transgender and which are going through a phase. She believes they are too ready to accept what the youngsters tell them at face value.
‘The consequences of them getting it wrong are catastrophic,’ she added.
The other applicant in the case – which will be heard this week – is IT engineer Keira Bell. The 23-year-old was put on puberty blockers as a teenager after telling GIDS staff she thought she was really male
In July 2018, the MoS revealed that 150 autistic children had been given the ‘puberty blocker’ drugs by GIDS.
Mrs A is one of two women taking the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which runs GIDS, to the High Court to stop it prescribing the powerful ‘puberty blocker’ drugs to those under the age of 18.
The medication halts a child’s normal physical development during puberty, making sex-change surgery easier.
Some experts say they give children time to reflect on whether to press ahead with further treatment. But studies show the vast majority of those who take them move on to ‘cross-sex hormones’ such as testosterone for those born female.
Taking the hormones can cause irreversible changes, including loss of fertility, and are a stepping stone to sex-change surgery.
The other applicant in the case – which will be heard this week – is IT engineer Keira Bell. The 23-year-old was put on puberty blockers as a teenager after telling GIDS staff she thought she was really male.
She later took testosterone, which left her with a deep voice and possibly infertile, and underwent a double-mastectomy – all actions that she now ‘deeply regrets’.
Court papers drawn up by solicitor Paul Conrathe, of Sinclairslaw, show Ms Bell and Mrs A are seeking a judicial review of GIDS’s practice of prescribing hormone blockers to under-18s. In them, they argue: ‘The age and immaturity of the child make consent impossible.
‘A child (typically, but not exclusively, in the 11-14 age range) who is in the early stages of puberty is not capable of properly understanding the potential lifetime loss of fertility, loss of sexual function, or the unknown psychological consequences that may be entailed by such treatment.’
Warning of the implications of taking the drugs, Mrs A said: ‘If you start a child on puberty blockers – and nigh-on 100 per cent of them go on to take cross-sex hormones – then you are almost putting them on cross-sex hormones there and then. You are setting them on the path of medical transition.
‘How on Earth can a child consent to a possible loss of fertility? How can they consent to potential loss of sexual function, when that’s something they can’t even remotely comprehend yet?’
Mrs A said her daughter had always struggled to fit in and felt more comfortable in the company of boys – ‘as many girls on the autistic spectrum do’ – but still had ‘girly’ interests, loved her long hair and would happily dress in pink.
As she grew up, she realised that while boys liked her company, they did not consider her ‘one of them’, leaving her socially adrift. Mrs A recalled: ‘She told me, ‘My life would be easier if I was a boy, because then boys wouldn’t see me as a girl – they’d see me as one of them.’ It was very much about fitting in.’
At secondary school, the youngster began presenting as male, cutting her hair and demanding to wear boys’ uniform.
She also spent a lot of time online, before one day telling her parents: ‘I want to be a boy.’
Her parents, while concerned and suspecting that her autism may lie behind her wish, allowed her to assume a male identity at school, called her by a gender-neutral nickname at home and agreed to let her seek a GP referral to GIDS. ‘It was almost my way of passing her an olive branch,’ Mrs A said.
Her daughter told the GP that she had felt male ‘for as long as I can remember’ – something Mrs A insists ‘just wasn’t true’. She added: ‘To hear her rewrite the history of her childhood was terrifying.’
While about 40 per cent of GIDS patients are given puberty blockers, Mrs A fears such a move is a ‘foregone conclusion’ if her daughter goes to the clinic.
If her daughter still wants to transition when she becomes ‘a fully-formed adult’ after turning 18, she says she will support her decision.
A spokesman for the Tavistock trust said last night: ‘GIDS is a safe and thoughtful service which puts the best interest of its patients and their families first.
‘We won’t comment on the ongoing proceedings and await the judgment of the court in due course.’