Dame Lynley Dodd (Photo: Hex Work Productions)
Dame Lynley Dodd (Photo: Hex Work Productions)

TelevisionJuly 6, 2022

Watch: Inside the wonderful world of Hairy Maclary creator Lynley Dodd

Dame Lynley Dodd (Photo: Hex Work Productions)
Dame Lynley Dodd (Photo: Hex Work Productions)

Get to know the mind behind some of Aotearoa’s most beloved children’s characters in this brand new documentary special. 

When Lynley Dodd sketched a scrappy black dog and a few lines of rhyme onto the back of a shopping list in 1979, she had no idea she had just created one of Aotearoa’s most beloved children’s characters. “I put that into my ideas book and thought, you know, maybe there’s possibility for him one day.” 

In 1983, Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s dairy finally got out of the gate and off for a walk in the first book of a series that would go on to sell over five million copies globally. But he is far from the only memorable character in Dodd’s scrapbook of ideas, which is also home to a photograph she snapped as a child of a dachshund that had chased a cat up a tree, and a newspaper clipping of a fox pushing a goose in a pram. 

“Animals have always been a big part of my life, it’s not a surprise that I started writing books about them,” says Dodd, revealing her creative process in documentary Lynley Dodd: Writing the Pictures, Painting the Words. Exploring her upbringing as an only child in ​​Kaingaroa Forest, she says was always surrounded by wild deer, rabbits and pigs, as well as her trusty pet cats and dogs. 

One of those cats, Wooskit, would go on to inspire the 1973 book My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes, which Dodd illustrated in collaboration with Eve Sutton. From there came her solo books – The Nickle Nackle Tree, Titimus Trim, The Apple Tree and The Smallest Turtle – all before Hairy Maclary snuck down the road and caused havoc with the likes of Hercules Morse and Muffin McLay. 

Over the next 40 years the little scrappy dog would go on to inspire stage shows, cartoon series and even a collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra. And, at the age of 81, Dame Lynley isn’t finished crafting stories and drawing pictures just yet. In this one-off documentary special, she reveals her new secret project, a departure from the Hairy Maclary universe that has been over 10 years in the making. 

Lynley Dodd: Writing the Pictures, Painting the Words is made with the support of NZ On Air.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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