Film review: Agents Jo Bannister and Jo McFarlane report about trade

While the release of No Time To Die put secret agent James Bond back in the limelight, in the first of a series, PG Buzz brings you film reviews from a cast of greeting card (not secret at all) sales agents.

First in the directors’ chairs are Jo Bannister and Joanna McFarlane, with the two Jos revealing whether the last year’s trade was a blockbuster, cartoon comedy or horror movie in their London and Middlesex patch; their highlights and tear-jerking moments of the trading year; which actor they would like to play them as well as their hopes for this year’s sequel.

Above: It’s been all lights, camera, action for the two Jos
Above: It’s been all lights, camera, action for the two Jos

What stars do you represent?

“These include The Art File, Brainbox Candy, Eloise Hall, Glick, Louise Mulgrew, Meri Meri, Paper Salad, Peartree Heybridge, Sally Scaffardi and Think Of Me.”

Above: It has been a case of Sliding Doors for some retailers over the last year…good and bad
Above: It has been a case of Sliding Doors for some retailers over the last year…good and bad

Tell us about the recent plot line of trade of the past 12 months:

“The last year was a blockbuster of a challenge to say the least. Initially a lot of our customers put things into perspective when they were closed – a real case of Sliding Doors. Some customers closed down, some redecorated, others worked really hard on updating websites and finding new ways to sell with the shops being closed. Once they reopened, I think most people were really grateful to still be there.

“We’re torn between 2021 being one of two films – Groundhog Day, because it felt initially as though we were reliving the same day over and over again, but then, once we reopened. it felt like Thelma & Louise – lifelong friends who have total trust in each other on a big challenge, not knowing how the year was going to end.”

Above: After the shops reopened, 2021 was back on the road, like Thelma & Louise!
Above: After the shops reopened, 2021 was back on the road, like Thelma & Louise!

Who’s on the casting couch for your roles:

“To play us, there’s nothing like a dame as the sound choice would be Dame Judi Dench and Dame Helen Mirren – after all, we will be working for as long as them! However, we’d prefer to be the Absolutely Fabulous Joanna Lumley/Jennifer Saunders duo with a glass of something fizzy in our hands!”

Above: Jo and Joanna are absolutely fabulous just like Lumley and Saunders
Above: Jo and Joanna are absolutely fabulous just like Lumley and Saunders

What was your popcorn strategy to get through the challenges: 

“I think we have kept each other going over the last year, always striving to do our best, and we speak all the time. Our companies have all been very supportive, and customers are always a pleasure to speak to. Seeing the customers after lockdown was wonderful and I think we all celebrated the wonderful industry we are so lucky to be a part of.”

Above: Cheers darlings! Jo Bannister (right) and Joanna McFarlane
Above: Cheers darlings! Jo Bannister (right) and Joanna McFarlane

What are your expectations for the 2022 sequel:

“Our big hope is for all shops to stay open, business to thrive – especially the independents – and for the closing credits to be us driving away into the sunset feeling totally happy.”

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