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Where is Sex Education set? All the major locations for Netflix show

The Netflix series is shot in England and Wales.

Ncuti Gatwa and Asa Butterfield, Sex Education
Published: Tuesday, 21st September 2021 at 2:16 pm

The third series of Sex Education landed on Netflix on Friday 17th September, regaling viewers with another hilarious, hormonal and heartfelt exploration of sexuality.

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The third series followed teen sex therapist Otis (Asa Butterfield) and his friends, including his former sex clinic partner and love interest Maeve (Emma Mackey), best friend Eric Effiong (Ncuti Gatwa) and Eric's freshly out of the closet boyfriend Adam (Connor Swindells).

The show's lush scenery has become as much of a hallmark as the Sex Education cast's exploits, with the fictional Moordale providing plenty of cinematic backgrounds for such exploits.

Filmed in Wales, set in England and inspired by American teen films of the 80s, Sex Education's setting is eclectic, to say the least.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com, producer Jon Jennings explained: "We wanted it to have that John Hughes influence of green and happiness to it.

"All our locations are un-filmed locations, which we pride ourselves on. You won’t see that on telly, I don’t think."

But where is Sex Education filmed and when is it set? Here's everything you need to know about Sex Education's gorgeous filming locations – and why there are so many '70s and '80s influences.

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 Caerleon 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."

However, the school's sports facilities were not filmed on the campus but instead at other locations around Newport – the school's swimming pool is actually part of Newport International Sports Village, while Cwmbran Stadium doubled for the Moordale High running track.

What year is Sex Education set?

Despite the very clear influence of the '80s on the show's aesthetic, Sex Education is very much set in the present day.

"We all absolutely love the teen genre, particularly the John Hughes films of the 1980s so we really wanted to make the show have the feeling that it's an homage or that it has this nostalgic backdrop, but that we are talking about very contemporary, modern themes and storylines for the characters," creator Nunn told Thrillist.

She added: "So in a way we were also trying to take this tried and tested tropes of the genre and sort of flip them on their head and show a different perspective on it. I think those two things together and then with the Britishness just make it feel like it's its own thing."

Though it's unclear which specific year Sex Education takes place in, it's safe to assume its timeline, if not its blended setting, matches ours.

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."

Another location on the English side of the Wye valley was used in season three – Wintour's Leap. The stunning cliff provided a breathtaking backdrop for Jackson and non-binary student Cal to hang out in.

Other attractions in the area include the 900-year-old ruin of medieval Tintern Abbey.

Many other scenes were also filmed nearby, with Tintern's Wireworks Bridge featuring prominently during Otis and Eric's daily cycle ride to school. It also appears during several scenes while Otis is walking home, such as after Aimee's party and when Otis and Maeve almost kissed in season one.

The shop where Ola and Adam work in season two is a real shop in Llandogo called Browns Village Stores, which has become quite the tourist attraction according to Roger Brown, who has been running the establishment since 1958.

“We are being asked about the show continually now. It is amazing. And I haven’t even seen it yet as I don’t have Netflix,” Roger Brown told The Guardian. “People stop when they see our name, which they kept for the show. So it is doing very well for us, which is lovely.”

Sex Education season 2 - Asa Butterfield, Ncuti Gatwa
Sex Education season 2 Sam Taylor/Netflix

Otis and Eric's disastrous camping trip in season two was also filmed in the nearby Forest of Dean, which has also been used as a shooting location for Doctor Who, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

Finally season two's fairground was filmed at Vauxhall Fields in Monmouth, Jackson has a heart-to-heart with his mum at St Briavels Castle and Bigsweir House stands in as Aimee's home.

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 a 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."

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..."

While filming principally takes place around Newport, other parts of Wales have also been featured in the show. The school hall scenes are not shot in Caerleon Campus but instead twenty miles away in Penarth's Paget Rooms, while Margam Country Park and Castle in Port Talbot doubled as Adam's military college in season two. 

More recently, Eric and Otis' double date with Adam and Ruby at the bowling alley in season three was filmed at Rhondda Bowl in Tonyrefail.

Mimi Keene

Sex Education seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix– read our guides to the best series on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix.

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If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide or visit our Drama hub for all the latest news.

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