Timeshift ventures inside places of sporting achievement, scientific endeavour and male obsession – the lofts of pigeon fanciers – to tell the story of a remarkable bird. As racer, messenger and even beauty pageant contestant, the humble pigeon has been a steadfast part of British life for centuries.
Pigeons have served in two world wars, flown over oceans and crossed barriers of age, class and race to take their place as man’s best feathered friend. Meanwhile, pigeon fanciers have contrived to make them faster and more eye-catching, using backyard genetics to breed the perfect bird.
Popular affection for pigeons has nosedived in recent decades due to growing distaste at what they leave behind, and legislation has seen them chased out of public spaces. But as this programme shows, dedicated British pigeon fanciers are determined to keep their pastime alive. So what does the future hold for the 21st-century pigeon?