Sergio Perez is best known for his impressive form in Formula 1 but few outside of his home country are aware of his other vocation, as the star of Mexico’s top rated drama series, Lieutenant Perez M.D.
The show airs every Friday night, or whenever there is enough electricity, and has been running for six years, excluding a small break when everyone on the crew developed scrofula.
The programme revolves around the crime-solving adventures of the eponymous hero who, for reasons that are never explained, is both a mid-ranking police detective and a well-respected doctor. In episode 4 of series 9 he was also revealed to be a concert-standard flautist although this hasn’t been referred to since.
Perez was just 16 when the show first transmitted and took the job only as a stop-gap following a quiet season of motorsport. Since medical training in Mexico can only be started aged 17 and takes at least 14 months, the producers carefully covered his hair with chalk and sand before each scene so that he didn’t look too young next to his co-stars who include Luis Rojo, best known as Severiano from daytime soap opera El Amor Es Muy Suculenta (Love Is Extremely Succulent), and Jesus Colunga, who originally rose to fame as Mexico’s fattest juggler.
To keep up with a punishing production schedule that often clashes with Perez’s racing commitments, the producers are sometimes forced to use a stand-in for wide shots and reverse angles, completing the subterfuge by carefully dubbing on the character’s well-known catchphrases such as, “Diagnosis – arrest” seemingly at random. More radically, when filming for the 19th episode of the current, 24th series clashed with the Chinese Grand Prix, the script was re-written so that the Lieutenant character spent the entire show wearing a large cat costume for no readily apparent reason.
Nonetheless, local audiences can’t get enough of the crime stopping/medical emergency-tackling young hero and his almost completely nonsensical adventures, even when he is dressed as a massive cat and his lines are clearly dubbed on afterwards having been delivered over a poor quality Skype connection, right down to the crowd pleasing pay off, “I prescribe… justice”.
However, with Perez tipped for great things in Formula 1 the question must be, how long can he continue with his parallel career in television? The feelings of the real Sergio Perez are currently unknown but if we were to ask the character Lieutenant Perez M.D. his reply would almost certainly be a catchphrase familiar to millions of Mexicans; “Doctor is just cop backwards”.