Sex Education looks unlike any other British TV series.
While the show is set in Britain, it has the look and feel of an American teen show, full of colour, sunshine and letterman jackets. This is no accident: the creative team made an effort to recreate the tone of beloved teen films of the 1980s.
“We wanted it to have that John Hughes influence of green and happiness to it,” producer Jon Jennings told RadioTimes.com on a visit to the set of the series in Penarth, Wales. “All our locations are un-filmed locations, which we pride ourselves on. You won’t see that on telly, I don’t think.”
Read on to find out more about Sex Education‘s filming locations.
Where is Sex Education’s Moordale High?
The team’s first port of call was to find a building that could fit the bill as Moordale High, and build out from there. That brought them to the Caerlon Campus in Newport, Wales.
Formerly part of the University of Wales, Newport, it had been vacant since 2016 until Jennings and his colleagues discovered it. It was such a great find that they made a move to build their entire show around it.
“We went everywhere, Newcastle, Hastings, until we found our school which, we’re very lucky to have found, because it’s turned into a studio, everything is based out of Newport.”
Where is Jean and Otis’s house from Sex Education?
Another gem in the show is Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson) and her son Otis’s (Asa Butterfield) house, which is set against the stunning Wye valley in Herefordshire.
“We struck gold with Jean’s house,” Jennings says. “It’s insane. We were driving around and we just saw it at the other side of the valley. We found this house and literally knocked on the door!”
He added: “That part of the Wye valley has become a massive tourist attraction just because of Jean’s house. We’ve had to build fences around it because of people always knocking on the door. It’s beautiful.”
Other attractions in the area include the 900-year-old ruin of medieval Tintern Abbey.
Where is Sex Education set?
Moordale! Jennings describes the fictional setting as a “quiet village”, hinting at why we haven’t seen much beyond the school.
“The school is probably the busiest place in Moordale,” he says. “Outside of the school you see houses with like three people.”
As many of the interiors are shot in locations around Cardiff and Newport, it can be difficult to conjure up an image of what the town itself actually looks like. So Jennings and co drew out a map.
“We drew a map, like in The Goonies,” he says. “The caravan park [where Emma Mackey’s Maeve lives) is like 10 minutes from [Jean’s house]. There are bridges nearby, there is a lot of water there. School, bridge, water, Jean’s house.”
Why is Sex Education filmed in Wales?
“We knew it shouldn’t be shot in London,” Jennings says. “That was the first thing even before future episodes were written. It was definitely not going to be London-based show. We wanted it to be different, we didn’t want it to be Grange Hill or Ackley Bridge, we just wanted it to have that John Hughes influence of green and happiness to it.”
Sex Education season 2 Sam Taylor/Netflix
And it was nearly much further afield…
“So we did a nationwide search. I had just done a job abroad, and I had this crazy idea of shooting the whole thing in Denmark, but casting it as England, because the architecture there is beautiful, so I did scout over there. It’s incredible. Then I realised how much a cup of coffee costs….”
Sex Education season 2 drops Friday, 17th January on Netflix