He was one half of the most famous double acts in New Zealand television, playing the city-slicker car salesman trying to sell "good keen man" Barry Crump a Hilux four-wheel drive.

Now Lloyd Scott is back in an odd couple comedy role, albeit on the stage rather than the screen. Scott, equally well-known for his 53 year-long broadcasting career as the Toyota commercials, appears in the play Movers as the elderly owner of a furniture removal company forced to confront a few of his prejudices when he hires a young Samoan man, Tai (Sepe Mua'au).

Tai, a wannabe stand-up comedian, is asking 'what next?' after finishing his university studies. He takes a job at the moving company while he figures out the answer and finds himself working with Oscar (Scott) and Bruce (John Landreth), two Pākehā blokes about as middle New Zealand as you can get.

Shortlisted for Playmarket's Adam NZ Play Award, Movers creator James Cain based the story on his own experiences working at small businesses.

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"A workspace was a perfect microcosm to explore all of these ideas because it's like school all over again," says Cain. "You're meeting completely different people with massively different backgrounds than you and you start this dance of trying to figure out how to get along."

Barry Crump and Lloyd Scott in a scene from the famous Toyota Hilux ads from the 1980s. Decades later, Scott is still recognised for his role in the TV ads.
Barry Crump and Lloyd Scott in a scene from the famous Toyota Hilux ads from the 1980s. Decades later, Scott is still recognised for his role in the TV ads.

While Scott left broadcasting last year, he hasn't exactly been enjoying a quiet retirement. Earlier this year, the 76 year old travelled to Japan to appear in a touring NZ production of Phantom of the Opera before signing up for Movers.

"I liked the story and the element of bringing together a young Samoan man with two older white guys to bring out certain social issues that we find in New Zealand today," he says. "It's self-deprecating social commentary."

Which is probably an apt description of the Toyota commercials Scott and Crump starred in for more than a decade. Scott says it's amazing how people still recognise him and know the commercials many years later.

"They seemed to make quite an impact in New Zealand, probably because they were well-written and Barry Crump was an iconic figure who I enjoyed working with very much."

John Landreth plays Oscar's offsider, Bruce. While he's acted all his life, for many years Landreth was better known as the founder of Ponsonby café Landreth & Co and, now back in Wellington, he still works in hospitality.

He says Bruce, is a product of his upbringing and while he's loyal to his friends and family, he's still "a little bit sexist, a little bit racist".

"There's a lot of laughs but also some poignant moments. It's a story with appeal across the broad, I had a few friends come to the season at Bats [in Wellington] who wouldn't normally go to the theatre and they said they thoroughly enjoyed it. While they had a good laugh, it made them think, too."

Mua'au says recognising the characters and parallels with experiences in his own life made him want to appear in Movers but initially, he didn't know of Scott's lengthy background. He checked after several people had their photos taken with Scott and, learning what extensive experience Scott and Landreth, has made him sit up and take note.

"They have a way of finding the fun even on the most stressful days and that's important."

Lowdown
What: Movers
Where & when: Basement Theatre, November 20 – 24; Meteor Theatre, Hamilton; November 27 – 29