One Christmas, more than 25 years ago, a small festive show took place in the north Norfolk village of Thursford, a rural location not far from the market town of Fakenham.
Featuring the choral scholars of King's College, Cambridge, little did organisers know their seasonal offering would be the birth of what is now England's largest Christmas show.
The location may be remote, but each year thousands of visitors make an annual pilgrimage to experience the multi-million pound Thursford Christmas Spectacular.
"We have to produce a show that people will be prepared to leave their homes for and travel four or five hours on a bus," said show producer and director John Cushing.
"When they arrive it has to be spectacle. It has to be better than what they can see in the local areas, it has to be good," he added.
The Greatest Show On Earth
Although Thursford's Christmas show has been entertaining audiences for 30 years, incredibly it has never been featured in a television documentary - until now.
|John Cushing at rehearsals|
"There are some incredible and wonderful things that go on in Norfolk and the Thursford Christmas Spectacular is certainly one of them," said Andy Holland, producer, director and film-maker of The Greatest Show On Earth.
"I'd been to Thursford many years ago, but when I was woken up on Christmas Day morning to a Radio 4 documentary about the show, I realised that yet again Norfolk had an amazing story waiting to be told to a television audience.
"I discovered that no television documentaries had ever been made about it, which was incredible since the Thursford shows are so popular, attracting audiences from all over England," he added.
Andy Holland approached BBC East chiefs with the suggestion to make a programme about the Thursford Christmas experience.
"I was given the go-ahead to make the film and have consequently spent a year behind the scenes with the show's producer John Cushing as he created the 2005 production," said Holland.
"From choosing the music to picking trees, from singing and dancing auditions to the performance itself and the transformation of the Thursford Steam Museum into a theatre that is so spectacular it takes your breath away - it's been incredible to watch," he added.
The Thursford Spectacular
John Cushing starts thinking about the next Thursford show, almost before the current run has finished. People are booking for the following Christmas in January, even before John has really conceived how it will look.
When you've an audience of more than 1400 people in the auditorium, with a full-house every night, the pressure is on to deliver the goods.
|John Cushing at the dancer's audition|
The creative process is ongoing for John and his team as they pull together a show featuring more than 100 cast members. Auditions are held for the show's singers and musicians in June, with the dancers added to the cast in September.
The spectacular contains more than 80 pieces of live music, performed by the Thursford orchestra and a crew of more than 50 staff - all working together to pull off more than 70 performances.
A year in the making
"The show is the culmination of a year's work. When I get on the coaches that come from Swansea or the Isle Of Wight and ask 'has it be worth it, coming all this way?' and they shout yes, it gives you a really good feeling," said Mr Cushing.
"What I'm trying to achieve is a grotto, the experience of sitting in a spectacular set.
"The building was never designed as a theatre, it's a shed my father built to house his collection of steam engines - so I've got to turn that round and make it into a theatre.
"There's a good feeling when people walk in. It's a bit over the top, but I'm not ashamed of that... it has to be to have impact. It's a bit brash, but I like it!" he laughed.
"I feel proud of the show and of the people I've employed to take my ideas forward who in turn have recruited an outstanding cast. They're all stars," he added.
|Enjoy this extract from the BBC East documentary which takes you behind the scenes of Thursford's 2005 production. We cannot bring you the full programme online due to contractual reasons.
Watch: Extract from The Greatest Show On Earth >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer
This programme was first screened on BBC1 in the East on
Sunday 18 December, 2005.
Songs Of Praise
Watch more from Thursford in this year's Christmas Eve Songs Of Praise on Sunday, 24 December at 4.50pm on BBC One.
Aled Jones celebrates an all-singing, all-dancing Christmas Eve in Norfolk, as he finds out just what the popular Thursford Christmas show means to its cast and audience.