There’s honestly not so much that I clearly remember from my childhood. A few moments here and there. Among those, finding a snake chopped in half by the lawnmower out the front of our house, getting my Honda 50cc Mini Bike for my birthday, and sitting in my grandma’s home before school with a plate full of biscuits and cake, watching Agro’s Cartoon Connection. I think it was before school? Yeah…
And after school was ‘What’s Up Doc?’ with Sophie Lee, a Warner Bros. cartoon show that, as a 9 year old boy, was beaming all kinds of messages into my brain that I did not fully understand but I knew it was absolutely critical that I keep watching, and not miss a moment! What’s Up Doc, indeed!
They knew how to make thoroughly entertaining TV back in the 90s, yes sir!
Agro’s Cartoon Connection 1989 – 1997
Agro’s Cartoon Connection was an Australian kids show that aired from 1989 to 1997. With its unique mix of cartoons, comedy sketches, and the unforgettable (and sometimes controversial) antics of Agro the wombat puppet and his (often cute blonde lady) co-hosts, the show became a staple of kids television during the late 1980s and 1990s.
The humor was aimed both at kids and adult parents, with many of the gags tongue-in-cheek, with sexual inuendo, almost swearing, and generally exciting because you’d never know what they’d get up to next. Most of that went over my head, and all I knew was that Agro was a naughty kid/wombat, and he’d pester the hosts in a light hearted funny way.
Really, it was the polar opposite of today’s TV shows, very raw, uinscripted, and ad-libbed, likely direct from the mind of puppeteer and voice of Agro, Jamie Dunn. The kind of stuff that would result in people being offended (god help us!), it would surely be cancelled, both the TV show and the puppet. Like many Aussie television shows back then, it didn’t take itself seriously, did’nt think too much about what it was doing or saying, and just tried to have fun – often at someone elses expense, sure – but that was how you are with friends, right? You take a jab, then throw one back, and you’re not afraid to laugh at yourself.
Come to think of it, Cartoon Connection was almost like Hey Hey it’s Saturday for Kids – no surprise given that also started as a Saturday Morning Kids show, and had plenty of controversy of its own, but hey I’m not getting into that one, not in this article!
Why an article on Agro’s Cartoon Connection?
After writing about Agro, Ann-Marie, and Crikey the Clown in an earlier story focusing on their promotion of Metro RC cars, I began to get a bit of traffic around the topic. It seems many Aussies would like to know more about Cartoon Connection, even some Americans who wonder whether it really was a kids TV show, and how the heck some of the stuff shown on YouTube ever went to air. So, well… let’s do it!
What was the show about?
The show was a blend of cartoons and live-action segments, showcasing popular animated cartoon series of the day, such as Samurai Pizza Cats, Sailor Moon, and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. But the cartoons were only half of its appeal, maybe less. The best parts of the show were the performances of Jamie Dunn who puppeteer’d Agro, and his Co-Hosts.
When she took over the show in 1995, Teresa Livingstone mentioned that there were no scripts for the dialog, no pre-canned jokes, and it was essentially her duty as co-host to be ‘the good one’, reacting to Agro (Jamie Dunn), who had such obvious comic and ad-lib ability that he could just ‘wing it’ every day. This is no doubt what led to the various controversial moments you might have seen on YouTube, or on the Adults Only special that aired many years later.
Who were the Co-Hosts?
The show had several during its run from 1989 – 1997, and they played an essential role in the show, interacting with the puppet Agro, driving each segment, and providing fodder for Agro to react to. They were:
Anne-Marie Biggar (1989-1995)
Anne-Marie is the most iconic and well known co-host of Agro’s Cartoon Connection. She had a playful and bickering relationship with Agro, and while most of the time his hijinks would go unpunished, occasionally she would put him in his place. It was this chemistry between the two presenters (Jamie and Anne-Marie) that would become one of the shows most beloved and memorable aspects.
Annie-Marie left the show in 1995, but would continue to work for Channel Seven in other roles, such as host of The Great Outdoors, episodes of In Melbourne Tonight (1997), Beauty and the Beast (1999), Totally Wild (2001), and 15 Episodes of Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton.
Most recently she’s been seen in an episode of Hard Quiz (2021) as an expert on Beauty and the Beast.
But that’s all academic. Who was Anne-Marie on Cartoon Connection? To me, Anne-Marie was a trooper. She was resilient, and she taught me that I should respect women. Agro would often call her a ‘ditzy blonde’, and while it was in jest, I could still tell that she’d prefer he didn’t. I saw in her this ability to push through it all, and not let it get to her. She was awesome. If you’re out there Anne-Marie, I hope you’re doing well.
Terasa Livingstone (1995-1996)
After Anne-Marie Biggar left the show, roving reporter Terasa Livingstone took over the role, sharing the screen with Agro and continued the show’s tradition of entertaining sketches and interactions. Terasa brought with her what I can only describe as sunshine. She was always smiling, was always wearing fun clothes, and while it felt weird that Anne-Marie was gone, it didn’t seem to miss a beat.
Since leaving the show, Terasa has starred in several US dramas including Lost (2004), Circadian Rhythm (2005), CSY: NY (2007), 21 (2008), and 25 episodes of Foreign Body (2008). Most recently she was herself in ‘Best Friend Type’ (2019).
Holly Brisley (1996-1997)
The final co-host of Agro’s Cartoon Connection, Holly joined the show in 1994 as a reporter at the age of 16, and would gain recognition just two years later when she took over the co-hosting role from Terasa at just 18 years old. Incredible!
After Cartoon Connection, Holly has had a wonderfully successful acting career, with recurring roles in Australian TV series, and small parts in Hollywood cinema, including Beastmaster (1999-2001), All Saints (2000), Garage Days (2001), Scooby-Doo (2002), The Matrix Reloaded (2003), Fat Pizza (2003), Dancing with the Stars (2005), Home and Away (2005-2009), and half a dozen other TV Movies and Shorts. We last saw her in Fat Pizza: Back in Business (2019-2021). Woah!
Who was Agro, and what does ‘Agro’ mean?
In Australia you might say “oh he’s getting a bit agro!” if someone was getting worked up about something. Short for ‘aggressive’ perhaps, though Agro from Cartoon Connection could never be described that way, though he certainly had plenty of energy, and loved ‘having a go’ at everything and anyone.
Agro on Cartoon Connection was a smart-mouthed, wisecracking wombat that was anthropomorphized into a naughty Australian school boy. Created and voiced by the talented Jamie Dunn, he’d constantly be having a crack at the hosts of the show, the cartoons, the animals, Ranger Stacey, pretty much anything was fair game.
Jamie Dunn / Agro is still fairly active on social media. Visit his Facebook page here.
Throughout the series, Agro would often refer to his favorite Australian Rugby League player, Wally Lewis, singing songs about him, praising his skill, and referring to him as some kind of sporting god, even keeping a photo of the player on the wall behind him.
As opinionated and outspoken as he was, Agro had no problem making jokes at his own expense, often referring to himself as a stuffed bath-mat, it’s entirely possible that’s what he was made from, and I’d love to know whether it’s true!
To anyone that’s seen the show, it makes complete sense when you realise that Agro’s voice and puppeteer under the desk, Jamie Dunn, was an accomplished radio personality and comedian – it was this ad-lib ability that he’d use to bring Agro to life with his quick wit and distinctive voice, the banter between him and co-host Anne-Marie being the soul of the show, and no doubt what led to it lasting as long as it did.
Ian Calder’s Characters
Personally, my favorite aspect of the show was the range of lunatic characters played by Ian Calder, such as Crikey the Clown, an oddball scientist, a weird Park Ranger, and a schoolkid who was just learning how to shave.
Calder’s characters are as memorable as Agro himself, and I just loved watching what he’d come up with each week, what reactions he’d get as he roamed around what seemed like the Gold Coast mall, beach, and parks, engaging with people who happened to be walking by, and of course handing out prize packs including Metro R/C Jet Hoppers, Bandits, and more.
The Legacy and Controversy
Agro’s Cartoon Connection came to an end in 1997, but its influence can still be felt in the Australian television landscape. 35 years since the show first aired, it has been criticized for its sometimes politically incorrect humor including sexist remarks, ‘offensive’ immitation of various cultures accents, and of course those outtakes on YouTube revealing that some jokes really were WAY too risky for broadcast, though there are plenty of people who claim some of it was aired, and made it past the man/women with the big red button.
I’ve always felt that looking back on a bygone era and applying today’s standards was somewhat foolish and attention seeking (‘look at me, I’m offended!’) however I also feel that it’s educational for us all to consider how far we’ve come, and that while ‘the good old days’ may have seemed better with rose tinted glasses, it really depends whether you were the one laughing, or the one being laughed at.
Regardless, this controversy has not diminished the nostalgia and outright love and affection that many Australians have for the show, with countless fans reminiscing about their favorite moments on forums, YouTube comments, and Reddit threads.
There have been several TV specials and in-person gigs in recent years where Agro has returned, even TV commercials, and personally I think all this is just fantastic, and I wish Jamie and Agro all the best, and can’t thank them enough for the smiles they brought to my face, and the sense of ‘what it meant to be Australian’ that the show instilled in me at a young age, that laid back larrakin attitude and carefree humor, warts and all.
Agro’s Cartoon Connection FAQ
Let’s answer the most common questions about the show!
1. What happened to Agro’s Cartoon Connection?
The show ended in 1997, but it lives on in the memories of its fans, on YouTube, and in fan pages like this. Also, Jamie Dunn is active on Facebook, go check it out!
2. Was Agro a kids show?
Yes, it was primarily aimed at children, but its humor often appealed to older audiences as well, due to Jamie Dunn’s experience as a radio presenter and all-round Aussie legend.
3. Is Agro a wombat?
Yes, a wombat made from a bathmat.
4. What is Agro in Australian slang?
“Agro” in Australian slang typically refers to someone who is aggressive or easily angered.
5. How old is Jamie Dunn?
Ancient. Okay, he’s 72, so still a few years in him yet, surely you can manage to get cancelled before you go mate! (I joke, I joke!)
6. What is the Agro’s Cartoon Connection Controversy?
The controversy surrounding the show stems from its sometimes politically incorrect humor and jokes that were deemed too risqué for broadcast.
7. Where can I watch full Agro’s Cartoon Connection Full Episodes?
Some episodes can be found on YouTube, there’s one or two on Archive.org, and there are fan sites dedicated to preserving the show’s memory, just like this one.
8. Who were the Agro’s Cartoon Connection Hosts? The hosts were Agro, voiced by Jamie Dunn, and Anne-Marie Biggar, and later there was Terasa Livingstone, and then Holly Brisley. Supporting acts were Ian Calder and Gibbo (Michael R Gibson), as well as Stacey Thomson (Ranger Stacey) who went on to star in Totally Wild!
9. Why did Anne-Marie Biggar leave Agro?
Anne-Marie left the show in 1995 to focus on her family and pursue other opportunities.
There! That should be everything! Got any more? Leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to find out!