TV illusionist Derren Brown is believed to be behind a bizarre advert that appeared in the classified section of the Manchester Evening News.

The cryptic ad, printed on a yellow background, appeared on page 43 of the paper on Monday.

It read: “THE NAIL WILL BE KEPT IN BAG NUMBER 3. [And another bag will be knocked off the table by a clumsy cow].”

The same ad has appeared in the Southend Echo, Western Mail and Liverpool Echo in previous weeks.

Brown is playing shows at The Lowry in Salford Quays this week.

Inquiries by MEN reporter Alexandra Rucki established that the ad had been placed by an unidentified woman from London.

Brown’s agent declined to comment, but it later emerged that his representatives had purchased 600 copies of Monday’s edition of the MEN.