Sex Education has finally returned to Netflix with eight brand new episodes picking up shortly after where we left off, with Moordale welcoming a new head teacher while Otis and Maeve find their friendship on the rocks.
Fans have waited a long time for this instalment of the massively popular comedy drama, as complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic delayed filming by several months.
Fortunately, Netflix recently released a handy recap video featuring Asa Butterfield and Ncuti Gatwa, which goes over all the major events from last term for anyone who's memory is a bit hazy. Watch below.
Season three reunites all our favourite Moordale students as well as introducing some new faces, with non-binary actors Dua Saleh and Robyn Holdaway among the additions to the Sex Education cast.
We also meet formidable headteacher Hope, played by Girls star Jemima Kirke, who is looking to keep the students of Moordale in line after Mr Groff utterly lost control towards the end of the second season.
Read on for everything you need to know about Sex Education season three, including release date, time, cast and more.
Warning: Sex Education season 1-2 spoilers follow.
Sex Education season 3 release date
Sex Education season three landed on Netflix on Friday 17th September 2021, with all eight episodes dropping at once for fans to binge through over the weekend.
The first two seasons of the show had premiered in January – in 2019 and 2020 respectively – but due to the difficult conditions of the pandemic, the third instalment of the series began filming later than originally planned.
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.
What time was Sex Education season 3 released on Netflix?
The new season began streaming on Netflix from 8:00AM (BST) in the UK on Friday 17th September, meaning more than a few fans probably ended up watching over breakfast.
In the United States, Sex Education season three was released at midnight pacific time or 2:00AM central time, while subscribers watching in India will also get the show at around 12:01AM (India Standard Time).
Sex Education season 3 cast
The main members of the Sex Education cast all return for season three, including Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Maeve (Emma Mackey), whose friendship is on dodgy ground after the heartbreaking events of last season.
Best pal Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and his new boyfriend Adam (Connor Swindells) also feature in prominent roles, as well as fellow Moordale classmates Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling), Steve (Chris Jenks) and Aimee (BAFTA winner Aimee Lou Wood).
The cool clique comprised of Olivia (Bridgerton season two's lead Simone Ashley), Anwar (Chaneil Kular) and Ruby (Mimi Keene) also return, with the new episodes showing a different side to the Moordale's queen of mean.
- You can hear Sex Education’s Gillian Anderson and Jason Isaacs talking to RT’s Jane Garvey on the Radio Times Podcast
Tanya Reynolds' Lily and Patricia Allison's Ola continue their sci-fi inspired romance, while Ola's father Jakob (Mikael Persbrandt) is drawn back to Gillian Anderson's iconic Dr Jean Milburn when she reveals she is pregnant.
Adult characters Mr Groff (Alistair Petrie), Maureen (Samantha Spiro), Miss Sands (Rakhee Thakrar) and Mr Hendricks (Jim Howick) are all back, while Ted Lasso's Hannah Waddingham also makes a guest appearance as Sofia.
Season two's new faces Rahim (Sami Outalbali), Viv (Chinenye Ezeudu) and Isaac (George Robinson) are also back, with the latter proving quite controversial after his shady move in the season two finale.
In terms of new additions, we meet incoming headteacher Hope, played by Girls star Jemima Kirke, a former pupil who's keen to clean up Moordale.
Meanwhile, Harry Potter and Star Trek: Discovery star Jason Isaac has also joined the show’s stellar line-up as the (more successful) brother of disgraced head teacher Mr Groff.
Sex Education welcomes some non-binary representation from singer-songwriter Dua Saleh as Cal and Robyn Holdaway as Layla, both of whom find themselves attacked by the new Moordale regime.
While Maeve's mum Erin (played by Anne-Marie Duff) also returns, Maeve's brother Sean (Edward Bluemel) won't be back this time around, after walking out on his little sister in the first season.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Bluemel said he hoped to return one day but ruled out an appearance in season three.
He said: “I have to wait and see really. It’s definitely something that has been talked about and I think, judging by people who have watched the show, I think it makes sense if he does return.”
The star added: "I'd love to see him return. Judging by what other people have said, I think they would too, so hopefully further down the line we might see Sean come back."
"The longer they keep him off-screen, the more effect it has when he comes back on screen. Or he might die off-screen," he added. "Which would be exciting in a different way to learn about!"
Sex Education creator Laurie Nunn talked to Attitude about the show's approach to characters – old and new.
"We take characters that you'll be familiar with — the school bully, the loser, the popular girl — and we dig into them and find the things that are really surprising about them," she said. "Then you're like, actually they're all the same, they all just desperately want to fit in and be accepted."
Sex Education season 3 trailer
A first full trailer for the series was dropped on 7th September, a mere 10 days from the release date for the third instalment.
In it, we saw the whole gang back together as they attempt to overcome the tight rules from new headteacher Miss Hope Haddon - we suspect she won't last too long.
Previously, Netflix released a teaser trailer introducing new Sex Education headmistress Miss Haddon, who is introducing a "new uniform" and a "new attitude" to Moordale.
The trailer is styled as an advert for Moordale, with various familiar faces (some keen, some not so keen) extolling the virtues of their school.
And plenty of images have been released teasing the new season, including six new snaps that were shared by the streamer on 16th August – including one of Adam and Eric holding hands as they skip through the woods. Check them out below:
On September 13th, only a few days ahead of the release of the third instalment, a video was released showing Asa Butterfield and Ncuti Gatwa recapping the events of season two - in character as Otis and Eric no less.
Sex Education season 3 plot
Here's the official synopsis: "It’s a new year, Otis is having casual sex, Eric and Adam are official, and Jean has a baby on the way. Meanwhile, new headteacher Hope (played by Jemima Kirke) tries to return Moordale to a pillar of excellence, Aimee discovers feminism, Jackson gets a crush and a lost voicemail still looms. Prepare for commitment animals, alien phenomena, vulva cupcakes and much more of Madam Groff."
There's plenty of plot points to pick up when season three returns, but we have faith in Laurie Nunn. The show creator has shown she's one of the best when it comes to dealing with multiple characters, storylines and dramas.
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. "It's you," he said. "It's always been you. I love you."
Awww. Slight problem though... Maeve's neighbour Isaac, who has a crush on her himself, deletes it before she has a chance to listen. *shakes fist at the sky*
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.
We kick off season three with Otis thinking Maeve has heard his voicemail and has decided to ignore it. He's awkward enough as it is, but this is awkward x 100.
Butterfield also revealed there's a time jump when season three returns.
Speaking to The Observer, Butterfield said: "Otis is back at school but he’s got different things on his plate. 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."
It seems this newfound confidence comes from a sort of relationship with Ruby, with the trailer sending fans into a frenzy after showing the unlikely pair holding hands.
"They bring out parts of each other which we haven’t really seen before,” Butterfield told TV Insider, with Ruby bringing Otis out of his shell which seemingly results in some questionable fashion choices.
In return Otis uses his therapist skills to help Ruby open up about her family life, which actress Mimi Keene has described as "very different from what people will be expecting".
“She is essentially a young carer, which is, again, I think a really important thing to show because it’s a lot more common than people know,” Keene added. “It’s really nice to see that softer side of her at home. Because she’s very different with her dad.”
Despite a burgeoning connection with Ryby, Butterfield 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 moustache for part of the series.
Yes, a moustache, but don't worry Butterfield has said it's not here to stay.
"We got snapped by paparazzi while filming and people have been freaking out about Otis having a moustache. I can exclusively reveal it's not real," he said.
"It's a stunt 'tache and thankfully it doesn't last the whole season. I don't think anyone could bear looking at that thing for long."
Butterfield previously spoke out on what he thinks the future has in store for Otis and Maeve, (via The Hollywood Reporter).
"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."
Meanwhile, Maeve doesn't really have time for Otis at the moment as she has her own drama to deal with. We ended season two with her ringing social services to report her mum for using drugs again while still looking after her half-sister. While Maeve apologised to her mum, they're still not really speaking.
As for Otis' best friend Eric, star Ncuti Gatwa has teased that the third run finds him celebrating his roots – and includes one moment that the actor has described as "profound".
“I can’t talk about it too much but this season,” he toldand other press at a BAFTA Q&A. "Eric returns back to his culture a lot more and I think those scenes were very special.
"Just kind of having a set where the majority of people were Black was really great and really powerful and representing Eric’s culture and his family, those are always very quite profound moments.”
He added: “In season one, there’s a scene where he goes to prom in a full African outfit and in a Nigerian headdress and I was just like, ‘Wow, I’m on a Netflix set, a big set, representing a culture that doesn’t normally get represented, representing a character that doesn’t normally get represented. This feels good.
"So I think any time he returns back to his culture or is with Asa [Butterfield], is with Otis – those are favourite scenes of mine.”
We can also expect more drama as Moordale gets its new headmistress, and Groff has to deal with the fallout of being booted out.
Aimee had been sexually assaulted on the bus and had finally spoken to the girls about it so expect that storyline to play out in season three too.
Nunn told The Hollywood Reporter: "She has a line where she says, 'I felt safe before and now I don't.' And I do think that is something that is a specifically female experience of walking through the world and always carrying a bit of fear with you. I think that men don't understand that in the same way, so hopefully, through telling these stories, we can get them to stop to empathise and come to understand that."
Meanwhile, Aimee Lou Wood has herself said that the series will continue with her season two storyline, explaining, "Aimee’s storyline in season two, it’s continued, [and] it’s handled beautifully throughout season three as well."
We can't forget Jackson and Viv's friendship either. Jackson has only just started to talk about his mental health, taking on the role in Romeo and Juliet so we can't wait to see what happens next with these two.
Jean is also pregnant with Jackob's child, but he ended their relationship over concerns she wasn't committed. Will he return?
Anderson told Collider: "Jean is pregnant and she's still pregnant when we find her again. And so we see that Jean is trying to negotiate how to deal with that in relation to Jakob and also Otis."
There's also talk of a "different tone", according to Tanya Reynolds (who plays Lily) and Kedar Williams-Stirling (Jackson) speaking on the Call of the Wild podcast.
“There’s a whole storyline that happens where just the aesthetic of the whole thing changes", said Williams-Stirling. "So without giving too much away, it’s definitely a different tone this year and it’s going to be exciting to see on screen.” We’re officially intrigued.
Reynolds added: “We’re not allowed to say anything but there are new scandals and I can’t wait to see how people react to some things. I think as Lily gets older she’s definitely going to become a Greta Thunberg type.”
While we're yet to see a trailer or even get a release date, the ending of season three has already been teased by costume designer Rosa Dias - and it's going to cause a big shake-up for a possible fourth season.
"When you see series three, the end of it is really quite interesting," she told Metro. "Whatever happens in four, if it happens, wow – the writers have got a challenge. They've got a massive challenge on their hands.
"It will be really interesting to see if they do do four, what they're going to do. It's massive."
If you want more details, you can read our Sex Education season 3 review before the show drops.
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How many seasons of Sex Education will there be?
Nunn has said she's keen to keep Sex Education going after season three, but the decision is in Netflix's hands.
"I think these characters... they've got legs," Nunn told The Hollywood Reporter. "I think I could do some more with them if we're given the chance."
Anderson also shared her thoughts telling Collider: "It has been discussed and I think, given how much people are enjoying it, I don't see why it wouldn't [continue], but things change. Things are changing at Netflix daily, as we speak. And so at the end of the day, it's nobody's call but those guys at the top."
The show's casting director Lauren Evans also added that there were hopes the show could continue, saying: "We hope that it goes beyond three... and four and five. As long as people want it, as long as the stories are there to tell."
Of course, nothing lasts forever and Nunn does have an opinion on when to bow out. "I always feel that teen shows should maybe stop before university," she said. "Otherwise, you get to the point where people are 30 years old and they're playing teenagers."
Meanwhile Aimee Lou Wood has revealed she's already had discussions about a possible fourth run, explaining "I’m actually talking about a storyline for season four at the moment that I’m giving some feedback on.
"But yeah no we do [talk to the writers], and also Ben [Taylor], our director. Every scene we do [he] lets us improvise at the end and just keeps the cameras going, which is so fun and lots of it does make it into the show. But I’d love to be in the writer’s room for [season four] – saying that here. But then again… I’d also like to just go home and learn my lines!"
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