For the last two years, January has seen the release of a new series of hit Netflix comedy Sex Education – but this year we’re being forced to wait a little longer to head back to class at Moordale.
The third series of the popular show had originally been intended to arrive at the same time as usual, but pandemic-related delays have made that impossible.
The good news is that season three is well into production, with Gillian Anderson (who plays Jean Milburn) having revealed the cast and crew are taking every precaution to make filming as safe as possible, including being tested multiple times a week in the show’s very own laboratory.
Due to Sex Education’s very nature, it requires a certain degree of close contact and intimacy – and so there was a time when filming was looking very unlikely. Thankfully, production began in September 2020 – five months later than planned – following a filming bubble being set up in the shooting location in Wales.
When the new series does arrive, we now know they’ll have a new headteacher, played by Girls star Jemima Kirke, and that Harry Potter and Star Trek: Discovery star Jason Isaac has joined the show’s stellar line-up as the brother of disgraced head teacher Mr Groff.
And in a recent interview, Asa Butterfield gave away a few more details about the upcoming season – including a little tease about what might happen between Otis and Maeve.
Need to know more? We’ve put together all the details about Sex Education season three so far below. (Warning: **spoilers for seasons one and two**)
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, the wait will be a little longer.
We do know it will not be on 17th January 2021, despite a poster circulating on Twitter. It looks like some fans got their hopes up after spotting a poster and release date, but they are actually for season two, which aired on 17th January 2020.
Filming for season three 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”:
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.
So while we won’t be seeing the show in January, we still hope that it might arrive at some point in the first half of 2021 – we’ll post any updates as and when we get them.
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 did COVID-19 affect Sex Education season 3 filming?
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 happen, but production was able to begin in September 2020 with the new rules in place.
Series star Asa Butterfield did warn 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-metre 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.”
Gillian Anderson explained to Collider how Sex Education producers have been able to get around these obstacles: “Well, you know Netflix, they take care of their productions and they have pretty deep pockets. They have set a really well run protocol for how to film on their sets. So there’s… Sex Ed has their own lab, people are tested multiple times a week, and they stay in designated cohorts. And knock wood, so far, nobody’s gotten sick.”
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?
While exact plot details aren’t readily available – we can piece together a couple of events set to occur in the upcoming series based on various interviews with cast members.
In a recent interview with The Observer, Butterfield revealed that there’s been “a bit of a time-jump since the season two cliffhanger”.
“Otis is back at school but he’s got different things on his plate,” he revealed. “He’s grown up a bit and become slightly more sassy. It’s been fun to portray his newfound charisma. Don’t worry, though, he’s still tragically awkward too.”
That wasn’t the only thing Butterfield let slip about the new season either – he also revealed that Otis and Maeve’s relationship will “continue to develop in season three,” that the series will “explore why Otis was running his sex therapy clinic in the first place” and even that he has a mustache for part of the series.
Butterfield had previously 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.”
Gillian Anderson revealed to Collider that season three would pick up with her character, Jean, still pregnant: “And so we see that Jean is trying to negotiate how to deal with that in relation to Jakob and also Otis.”
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.