Adverts for a new reality show in Britain in 2002 saw hundreds of people show up to audition.
Reality shows seemed to offer fame and fortune, as it was the height of the Big Brother craze.
Some hopeful contestants quit their jobs and had even given up their homes, only to find out the show did not exist.
The Greatest Show Never Made on Prime Video details how it all came about.
Director Ashley Francis-Roy told Moncrieff people were intrigued by the mystery.
"It promised an adventure," he said.
"It said, 'Looking for adventurous people who are looking for exciting opportunity', and it suggested there was a prize of stg£100,000.
"It didn't really say what the show was, it didn't say what they'd be doing for that year.
"There wasn't a lot of detail, but this enticing offer of £100,000."
Mr Roy said this mystery offer was on the back of the success of Big Brother.
"Big Brother had just started I think; about 2002 we'd had two seasons already," he said.
"People talk about what a phenomenon it was - everybody was watching Big Brother, everybody was talking about it.
"It was really the first time reality TV had been big in this way."
Mr Roy said auditions were held with about 100 contestants.
"The contestants were very excited and impressed," he said.
"They're met by a team of people who look after them, and it seems very professional.
"There's one person who's kind of behind it all, and that person's name is Nikita Russian.
"They all talk about what a charming, mysterious figure this person was."
'Some big adventure'
Mr Roy said when the final 30 contestants were picked, they still had very little information.
"Even at that point they still weren't given a lot of detail about what the show was going to be," he said.
"They were told, for example, to bring their passports; so a lot of them assumed they would end up going on some big adventure.
"Lots of them did give up huge things - people left accomodation, relationships, jobs - and turned up fully expecting to be in this show for a year."
'It just didn't feel right'
Mr Roy said people soon started to question what was going on.
"They were split into three teams of 10 and they met in different locations in London," he said.
"The turned up on a morning in June, it was quite a rainy day, and I think almost immediately for a lot of them it just didn't feel right.
"It didn't seem like there any infrastructure, there was no broadcast vans, there was no professional crew.
"So people started almost immediately questioning what was going on.
"They just weren't sure; some people were saying things like, 'Maybe this is part of it'," he added.
The Greatest Show Never Made is on Prime Video from Wednesday October 11th