‘The Greatest Show Never Made’ Recap And Review: A Decent Attempt At A Failed Project

The Greatest Show Never Made, directed by Ashley Francis-Roy, will be reminiscent of the documentary on the Fyre Festival, which was a big dud for the organizer as well as the people who planned to attend and promote it. The difference is that the Fyre Festival fiasco occurred recently. The Greatest Show Never Made is a documentary that is based on a reality television show that was successful only on paper and never hit the big time.


The maker of The Greatest Show Never Made solely focuses on the advent of reality television, which became a huge crowd-puller and garnered several television channels good ratings. The idea was to tap into the voyeuristic tendencies of the population in general. The massive industry that this genre has become has its genesis in shows like Big Brother and Survivor. The core of these shows was to follow the contestants everywhere with a camera and constantly record footage of their every movement. This not only gives the said contestant some exposure, but it also gives the audience some gratification that the life in front of the camera is normal.

The biggest example here could be Big Brother, which became a massive franchise all around the world. In India, the show “Big Boss” has become a household name. With the success of this show, there was a line of people who figured they could mint money off producing a reality show that would gather enough attention from the existing fans of this genre to be profitable. In comes Nikita Russian, who seems to have something of an idea about reality shows and probably carries a rebellious streak in himself to go against the usual stuff that people watch. His advertisement seeking contestants brought together a bunch of driven people who wanted to break away from their monotonous lives. These people are also the kind who are enamored by the exhibitionist nature of reality shows. They also understood that these shows provided contestants with enough publicity to potentially pave the way for better career prospects in the television or movie industry.


Jane Marshall, Lucie Miller, Tim Eagle, Rosy Burnie, and other people decided to respond to Nikita Russian’s advertisement in the hope of making it big in the city of London. Most of them had reached the city after leaving behind everything they owned. Nikita Russian provided everything he could from his end and made sure to give all the contestants a fair idea of what he had in mind with his show. The contestants claim that Nikita Russian assertively said that he was in talks with Channel 4 to materialize the reality television show.

All of them started living in John Comyn’s apartment in the city, in the hope that Niki would come up with something to get the project going. Sadly, things went awry very quickly when the director, David Wilder, whom Niki had hired, quit the project, citing no monetary compensation for the work he had done so far. David Wilder claims he shot some promotional work with Niki in the documentary, but the latter did not have the financial backing to pay the crew he had hired. Niki went ahead and spoke about how the lack of cash influxes and money ruined everything.


There was another bunch of contestants who joined after responding to Niki’s flyers. It was this group that pointed out the obvious loopholes in the manner in which Niki formulated this whole plan. Niki’s childhood best friend, Michael, also spoke about wanting to stay beside him and bring this reality television show to the nation’s screen. One of the contestants from the second group recognized him as an employee of a local bookstore. This ruined everything Nikita had planned for his venture. Michael reveals that Nikita’s actual name is Keith, and Nikita is just a fictitious identity he has come up with. On the other hand, Michael had asked Niki to approach a channel and sell the idea to them to make some money off it. Any channel will be able to mount the project. There will be enough traction to get more people to watch their show. Somehow, Niki wasn’t coming around this idea, probably because he wasn’t sure about what he wanted.

The revelation about him being a bookstore employee and the fact that Nikita did not have 100,000 pounds in hand raised many eyebrows amongst the contestants. They slowly started questioning Nikita because they’d all given up on many things at Nikita’s insistence. They confront the man in a rather civil manner as Nikita starts living with them in their apartment. All of them realized this man was penniless, and they could not come around filing any complaints against him because of his situation.


The Greatest Show Never Made also introduces Nikita as his new identity. Niki Quentin Woolf, who is now a father and a successful author. He talks about the time when he thought he had something in him to make it as a reality TV show producer but failed miserably. Niki also spoke in detail about the identity crisis he faced as a child, which forced him to move out of his home at the age of sixteen and have many aliases. Niki claims to have had no intention of robbing anyone because he spent many days with the contestants in their apartment instead of running away to avoid their wrath and consequences. Niki seems to have learned his lesson because he was young, and he was glad to see all these ex-contestants who got carried away by Niki’s words. They have a reunion where they seem to have moved past this disaster and made a life for themselves. They feel Niki changed their lives for the better, and they hope he is leading a productive life as well.

Review: A decent Attempt To Explain A Failed project

This Ashley Francis-Roy documentary series was released on Amazon Prime Video on October 17, 2023, and it is a great insight into what went behind a highly publicized reality television show that was announced, but never took off for real. This will remind people of the infamous Fyre Festival and the Netflix documentary directed by Chris Smith, which was released in 2019.


The Greatest Show Never Made documentary is bizarre to begin with because it brings together a bunch of people who were somehow convinced to take part in a reality show but, in the end, were left with nothing but disappointment. The prize money was a far-fetched illusion for Niki, the creator of this show, who did not have any money to make it a reality. It is the candor with which all the contestants came forward and spoke about their big mistakes from their younger days that makes the show a decent watch.

The Greatest Show Never Made is only a three-episode-long documentary that gets into the nitty-gritty from the start to the end of how it began and ended for all of them, including Niki Russian. A name so fake; it is appalling how the contestants did not see that his name was a red flag. But since this is set at a time when normal people like them were fascinated by reality shows, it is easy to understand why they would fall for Niki’s scheme. It is surprising to see all of them initially pin the blame on the man for essentially ‘ruining’ their lives. The contradiction lies in the fact that these people chose to believe his words; Niki did not force them to join his quest.


There is a perspective given by every person, including Nikita himself, who now goes by Niki Quentin Woolf. His perspective comes across as genuine and heartfelt, and he’s no con artist like Billy McFarland was. The three-episode-long documentary was a cathartic look into the younger versions of the contestants and Niki. It allows the viewers to understand that all of them have moved on and want everyone involved in this failed project to remain happy with whatever they have chosen for themselves. The director did a brilliant job of bringing Nikita on board to talk about the entire fiasco from his point of view. Initially, it would seem he was justifying his action, but it was not that hard to comprehend that Niki wanted to do some path-breaking work on television.

The Greatest Show Never Made is a weird documentary, but it makes us wonder about the kinds of incidents that take place around the world. “Truth is stranger than fiction,” indeed. Give this documentary series a watch.


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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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The Greatest Show Never Made is a weird documentary, but it makes us wonder about the kinds of incidents that take place around the world. “Truth is stranger than fiction,” indeed. Give this documentary series a watch.'The Greatest Show Never Made' Recap And Review: A Decent Attempt At A Failed Project