Sex Education star Gillian Anderson: It’s easy to be tongue-tied when talking about sex

The actress plays a sex therapist in Netflix’s new teen comedy drama, but says she'd struggle to be as frank as her character with her own family

Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson in Netflix's Sex Education (Netflix)

In Netflix’s new comedy drama Sex Education, Gillian Anderson takes on the role of a sex therapist who speaks to her teenage son with near-excruciating honesty about sex.

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However, in real life, the actress says talking about sex with her own family is way more stressful.

Speaking about her own experience of having the birds and the bees conversation with her children, Anderson says, “I haven’t really had the talk with my two young boys [aged 10 and 12] yet. I do remember having a talk with my daughter [24] but it was more of a long drive discussing all the horror things that could happen if she didn’t use protection.”

Laughing, she confesses, “I strategically had that conversation in the car!”

The Crown - Matt Smith, Peter Morgan, Claire Foy - Writer/Creator Peter Morgan with Matt Smith (Prince Philip) and Claire Foy (Queen Elizabeth II) (Netflix, TL)

Anderson says she is “sure” that she’s an “embarrassing mum”, and adds: “It’s weird because I think a lot of parents think they’d be able to handle the birds and the bees conversation and that they will be able to normalise it and make it cool in some way, but it’s hard.

“When you’re actually face to face with it, it’s really easy to either skirt it entirely or become tongue-tied.”

Anderson, who was born in America but grew up in both the States and the UK, notes that “the Brits are historically known for being uptight and restrained and potentially repressed.”

“Whereas I think the Americans for a longer period of time have been much raunchier,” she adds. “Although we did have Benny Hill, for crying out loud.”

While Sex Education is set in an English secondary school, the show’s director Ben Taylor describes it as having “American influence but British ingredients”.

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Sex Education also stars Asa Butterfield, Emma Mackey, Ncuti Gatwa and Alistair Patrie, and lands on Netflix on Friday 11th January 2019.