Sex Education is a show that, due to its very nature, requires a certain degree of close contact and intimacy – and so there was a time when filming during the pandemic was looking very unlikely.
But thankfully production on the hit series was able to begin in September – five months later than planned – after a filming bubble was set up in the shooting location in Wales.
The start of filming was announced on Twitter, with Netflix posting a picture of the doodle-covered title page of episode one, and we’ve since been finding out more and more about what might lay in store for Moordale’s students.
Perhaps most excitingly, we now know the identity of the school’s new headteacher, with Girls star Jemima Kirke playing Mr Groff’s replacement, while another high profile addition to the cast sees Harry Potter and Star Trek: Discovery star Jason Isaacs join the show.
Those castings will be great news for the swathes of devotes followers the show has picked up since its 2019 debut – but the thing they’ll care most about are the latest developments in the will-they-wont-they romance between awkward Otis Milburn (Butterfield) and cool girl Maeve (Emma Mackey).
For proof of the pairing’s popularity, look no further than just how furious people were when their relationship was put in peril at the climax of season two, when Isaac (George Robinson) showed his selfish side in an attempt to have Maeve to himself. No doubt viewers will be hankering for answers about what happens next.
Here’s everything we know about Sex Education season three so far. (Warning: **spoilers for seasons 1 and 2**)
Has Sex Education been renewed for a third season?
Yes! Netflix confirmed back in February that Sex Education has been renewed for season three.
When is Sex Education season 3 released on Netflix?
Based on the release dates of the two previous seasons, we had been expecting Sex Education to arrive in January 2021. However, with production on season three delayed thanks to coronavirus, it remains to be seen when the drama will arrive on Netflix.
Filming was meant to begin in May/April 2020 in Wales, where Sex Education is filmed – but (for obvious reasons) that was impossible.
However, on 9th September 2020 Netflix announced that season three of Sex Education was now officially in production – sharing an image of a script covered in doodles of the aubergine emoji, hearts, and the classic “cool S”:
— Netflix Queue (@netflixqueue) September 9, 2020
Getting going ASAP was particularly important because the show is reliant on filming during long summer days, which helps give Sex Education its American-style aesthetic. September is already rather late as the nights draw in.
There remains a chance that the next season could be released in its usual January slot – fingers crossed! – and it’s reportedly still possible that the drama will air in the first half of 2021.
Sex Education season 3 cast: Who’s returning?
As the ending of season two teased a number of potential new relationships, viewers should expect to see the main Sex Education cast return – Otis (Asa Butterfield), Maeve (Emma Mackey), Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), Jean (Gillian Anderson), Adam (Connor Swindells), Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood), Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) and villainous Mr Groff (Alistair Petrie) – all of whom appeared in the series’ renewal video.
Hopefully, we will also be seeing more of Jackson’s friend and tutor Viv (Chinenye Ezeudu), who was introduced last season and quickly became a fan favourite.
New characters Rahim (Sami Outalbali) and Isaac (George Robinson) also made a big impression on viewers – with the latter proving quite controversial by the season finale. Given how essential they were to the plot of season two, viewers should expect to see them again in season three.
It remains to be seen whether we can expect a return for Anne-Marie Duff, who played Maeve’s mother in season two, or Edward Bluemel who portrayed her brother Sean in the first run but did not return for the second.
But there are also some high profile additions to the cast, with Girls star Jemima Kirke joining as new headteacher, and former Moordale pupil, Hope – who has aspirations of rebuilding the school’s previously stellar reputation.
Also joining is Harry Potter and Star Trek: Discovery star Jason Isaacs, who play’s Mr Groff’s more successful brother Peter, with whom the old headmaster is staying after being kicked out of his wife’s house.
And there’s also a new pupil joining the class – with recording artist and songwriter Dua Saleh making their acting debut as Cal, a non-binary student who clashes with Hope early in the new headteacher’s tenure.
Meanwhile, producers were on the look out for extras to share the screen with Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson and the rest of the Sex Education cast, with Mad Dog Productions searching for extras who could pass for 18 to 26.
How will they film Sex Education despite COVID-19?
In July, Netflix confirmed filming could begin the following month (August) using new guidelines on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to Deadline, Sony Pictures Television (which owns Sex Education’s production company Eleven) had said that work was underway preparing for season three, with producers hoping to start filming in August by drawing up safety protocols for production.
That didn’t quite happen, but production was able to begin in September 2020 with the new rules in place.
Series star Asa Butterfield did point out in a June interview with Deadline that due to the high number of sex scenes in the show, the pandemic could cause more of an issue for Sex Education than other shows.
He said, “It’s quite hard to keep the two-meter distance when you’re kissing someone or doing anything else. I’m sure that’s something they have realised. As well as that, when you’re on a set making film and TV, there are so many parts to this machine. It will make it incredibly difficult to enforce a rule around quarantine, but you have to because this virus is going to be around for ages. Luckily that’s not my job to figure those things out.”
In July 2020, Butterfield also suggested the possibility that the entire cast and crew would be quarantined in order to safely begin filming, telling Screen Daily: “If that’s what needs to be done, then that’s what needs to be done.”
He added, “The foundation of this show is relationships, friendships, and intimacy, and it gives such a positive message. Otis and [best friend] Eric are always hugging and jumping around – we can’t change that. I would rather we all quarantined and we keep the heart of the show than lose that.”
Will Sex Education return for further seasons?
Good news for Sex Education fans – its creator Laurie Nunn told The Hollywood Reporter that she thinks the show’s characters have “got legs” and that Sex Education could run for several more seasons.
“I think I could do some more with them if we’re given the chance,” she said. “[Netflix] is very supportive and really wanting us to tell the stories that we feel passionate about. It really feels like we’re all on the same page, wanting to make the same show.”
Sex Education season 2 ending explained
*CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS*
By the end of season two, Otis has broken up with Ola after embarrassing her, Maeve and himself at a party, where he loses his virginity to popular girl Ruby.
After making amends with Jean, whom he fell out with prior to throwing a party, and chatting to his partially estranged father, he realises that he is in love with Maeve and leaves a voicemail telling her so. However, Maeve’s neighbour Isaac, who has a crush on her himself, deletes it before she has a chance to listen.
Eric, who has spent the entirety of season two in a love triangle, picks his former bully Adam over boyfriend Raheem, after Adam storms the stage during Moordale’s school musical and professes his love for him.
After breaking up with Otis, Ola realises that she has feelings for her friend, Lily, and begins a relationship with her.
Sex Education season 3 theories: What will happen next?
Obviously exact plot details aren’t readily available – but we can be sure that the show will continue to explore the relationships between the pupils of Moordale Secondary School – especially what might happen next with Maeve and Otis and Eric and Adam.
Star Asa Butterfield has spoken out on what he thinks the future has in store for Otis and Maeve, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in June.
“They both have a bit of growing to do if they are potentially to become a couple,” he said. “But, equally, I can see them just being good friends. I love Emma [Mackey], and we all get on amazingly well.
“It’s hard to put your finger on when you do experience that chemistry, but there are moments — fireworks, really — when you work with someone and it just feels right. Emma is so good at playing all of Maeve’s different shades and also showing her vulnerability.
“Otis is one of the few people who can get her to show those cracks. We didn’t actually get many scenes in season two together, which was really sad. I’m hoping they write some more for us next year.”
If we hear more whispers about possible developments in season three, we’ll post them here – so make sure to keep checking back!
Is there a trailer for Sex Education season 3?
There isn’t a full trailer for season three just yet – but Netflix did release this humorous short featuring Mr Groff walking the corridors of Moordale, when they announced the show would be returning.
We’ll just have to wait and see.