Agro (puppet)

Agro is an Australian puppet and media personality, operated by comedian and voice artist Jamie Dunn. He was especially prominent on Australian television in the 1990s due to his co-hosting opposite Ann-Maree Biggar and Terasa Livingstone of Agro's Cartoon Connection, a children's program that was aired from 1989 to 1997 on weekday mornings by the Seven Network.


The word "agro" (also spelled "aggro"[1]) is English slang for "aggression". Agro is sometimes said to have the surname Vation, though the puppet is rarely credited with a surname.


Agro's humour tends to be adult, with much sexual suggestion, cursing and uninhibited behaviour. He has often appeared with an innocent-acting female offsider, who is subjected to mocking and innuendo. His pre-taped performances in shows intended for a juvenile or family audience were vetted before broadcast, but in the adult-oriented shows (and in the Christmas tapes of Agro's Cartoon Connection) his largely uncensored antics were given full rein. Unlike many characters, particularly children's puppets, Agro often broke the fourth wall, making reference, for example, to the facts that he was a puppet, that his limbs did not move, and that a hand was up his back. Apparently, Agro appears to be somewhat similar to a grouch.

Agro was a fan of Australian former rugby league player Wally Lewis, writing and singing many songs about him.


The original puppet was created by BTQ-7 employee Garry Rhodes, who was a floor manager at the time. It was an altered vintage 1978 Fisher-Price puppet of Animal from The Muppet Show, although it is often joked that he is made from a bathmat (Agro frequently describes himself as a 'talking bathmat'), the Agro puppet is more-or-less a version of the Muppet character Animal. Later, the producer of Agro's Cartoon Connection claimed that Agro had been "altered by the Red Cross", after Jim Henson's Muppets made a claim regarding copyright.

It was Rhodes who coined the concept of "eating flies" and other naughty quirks that later continued as part of the puppet's character.

After a fall-out with Seven led to Rhodes' resignation, several different 'operators' were involved in working the puppet. Jamie Dunn eventually fell into that role after a not-so-startling singing career. It was Dunn who took the character to greater heights and created an iconic part of Australian television history. Dunn's marketing prowess resulted in the Agro concept becoming a lucrative career for him.

The Agro puppet eventually produced by Fisher-Price was unusual in its construction. The puppeteer could open and close the mouth, and could also manipulate the eyebrows via a plastic lever in the head. This allowed Dunn to create a sexually-suggestive leering expression, which he often used. The eyes and limbs do not move.

After Agro's rise to fame there was some dispute between Rhodes and Jamie Dunn because Dunn attempted to claim creative ownership of the puppet. A court case loomed, but BTQ-7 and the parties involved reached a settlement that allowed Jamie Dunn to retain the rights.

Agro officially belongs to Channel Seven.[2] In 2001 Channel Seven Productions enlisted puppeteer and puppet builder Warren Duxbury to rebuild Agro because the original Agro had deteriorated beyond repair. The new puppet was built for use on the revival of dating show Perfect Match, hosted by Shelley Craft. The nose of the new puppet was noticeably different from the old one.


Television host

Agro hosted the following Australian television shows:

Agro has occasionally appeared as a panel member on the Channel Seven Perth Telethon, but usually after 10 p.m.

Agro was a guest host for Tonight Live with Steve Vizard on four occasions. He also appeared many times as a guest on Tonight Live.

Television appearances

Agro has also appeared as a guest on the following television shows:

Agro also features in the film clip of the American rock band Trixter for their song One In A Million. He has also appeared on a number of Australian telethons, particularly those that raise money for the Royal Children's Hospital, Brisbane.

Radio host

Agro's radio credits include:

  • The Morning Crew (1990–2005), B105 FM's breakfast show. Agro performed prank telephone calls and also presented a segment Agro to the Rescue, in which he would provide money or resources to a family or individual in trouble. Eventually the 'Agro' performances were credited to Jamie Dunn, and the 'Agro' character was marginalised.
  • The Zinc Morning Zoo (2006–), with Ian Calder and Courtney Burns on Sunshine Coast FM radio station "Zinc 96".


Agro at his height was a feature of much publicity and merchandising including having released four recorded studio albums, a Game Boy game, an arcade game (Agro's Fantastic Arcade Game), and a range of other merchandise including action figures, stickers, lunchboxes, and children's clothing, and annual show bag's at the Easter Show. He is patron of the Shandar Smith Foundation, a charity for children with cancer.[3]

Dunn has never appeared alongside Agro, as a typical ventriloquist might. When Agro appears on camera or on stage, Dunn is always hidden, often by furniture.

Current status

Agro's on-camera roles became less frequent in the late 1990s as his radio commitments grew and the novelty of the character wore off. When Agro performed on radio, Jamie Dunn would sit in the studio and provide the Agro voice without actually operating the puppet. In time, these performances were credited to Dunn himself.

Dunn aspired to become a show-business personality in his own right, and so in time he appeared in promotional material for the B105 FM Morning Crew as himself. He used the 'Agro' character as a kind of alternative, more uninhibited personality (for example, when making prank telephone calls). The puppet itself was seldom seen during the 2000s. Dunn said at one point that Agro was 'in a suitcase somewhere'. More recently, Agro has appeared in promotional material for Zinc 96.[4]

In March 2009 Agro returned to television screens in South East Queensland to promote a $7,000 cash give-away on Radio Station 4BC. As of August 2013, Agro started appearing on Channel 7 program 'The Daily Edition'. He talks to the panel and answers viewer questions.

In 2017, Agro appeared in several ads for "", and has continued as the voice of the radio advertisement.

Awards and nominations

ARIA Music Awards

Year Nominated works Award Result Lost to
1991 The Agro Album Best Children's Album Nominated Robyn Archer - Mrs Bottle's Burp
1992 Agro Too Nominated Peter Combe - The Absolutely Very Best of Peter Combe (So Far) Recorded in Concert
Best Comedy Release Nominated John Clarke and Bryan Dawe - The Annual Report
1993 Agro Kids Dance Album Nominated Various - Stairways to Heaven

Logie Awards

Year Nominated works Award Result
1987 Wombat Most Popular Children's Program Won
1988 Won
1989 Won
1990 Won
1991 Agro's Cartoon Connection Won
1992 Won
1993 Won
1994 Won
1995 Won
1996 Won
1997 Won

He also received a Penguin Award for "Best Presenter of Light Entertainment".


  1. ^PARTRIDGE2006
  2. Dennehy, Luke (3 July 2011). "Looks like he's still got the chemistry". Herald Sun. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  3. The Shandar Smith Foundation Archived 4 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Zinc 96.1: Morning Zoo Archived 18 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
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