15 wild facts about Sex Education you probably never knew
24 September 2021, 15:52 | Updated: 28 September 2021, 11:48
Aimee was almost Lily... WHAT!?
It's here! Season 3 of Sex Education has finally landed on Netflix and we're hooked.
The iconic series focuses on the sex lives and personal dramas of the students at Moordale Secondary School. Season 3 picks up shortly after where the second season left off and, as you can imagine, life hasn't become any less chaotic for our favourite teens. Will Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Maeve (Emma Mackey) finally hook up? Will Eric's (Ncuti Gatwa) new relationship with Adam (Connor Swindells) last? And how will everyone deal with Otis' mother Jean's (Gillian Anderson) baby news?
Surprisingly, there are some details about the internet's favourite Netflix series that you have probably never even heard about. So, if you're thirsting for even more Sex Education tea in-between binging the entire third season, let's dive in.
1) Gillian Anderson threw the first Sex Education script in the bin
It's hard to imagine anyone else playing the iconic sex therapist Jean Milburn, but it could have all been a different story – and we have Gillian Anderson's boyfriend to thank.
During an interview on The One Show, Gillian admitted that she actually threw the first Sex Ed script In the bin. "When I first read it, I had not really responded to it. I kind of put it in the bin and my partner suggested that I take it out of the bin and look at it a bit more seriously. Actually when I did I found it incredibly hilarious."
2) Season 2 almost ended VERY differently
Remember that devastating ending of Season 2 which saw Otis and Maeve grow even more distant? Well, it could have actually panned out a lot better for our favourite couple.
In the final episode, Otis declared his love to Maeve in a voicemail. Unfortunately, Maeve was competing at the National Student Quiz Championships so instead he asks Isaac to tell Maeve to check her phone. However, sneaky Isaac deletes the message because he likes Maeve.
The final shot sees Maeve smiling up at the moon and Otis walking away from the caravan park. However, in an interview with BT TV, director Ben Taylor revealed that he shot a slightly different ending that would have comforted Otis and Maeve shippers. "I shot a thing just to see. Just to be naughty, because occasionally I can be," he said.
"[The] shot you see in the finale is Otis and Maeve going off in different directions and it finishes on a single slow-mo tracking shot of each of them. Even with no dialogue Asa and Emma are incredible."
In the alternative ending Taylor told Butterfield and Mackey: "Otis act like you’ve just seen Maeve. Maeve, act like you’ve just seen Otis." Taylor said that in the alternate version, the season would have ended with viewers seeing "a smile" on both character's faces.
WELL. We were robbed.
3) The masturbation scene in Season 2 was filmed with coconut shampoo and a prosthetic penis
Otis famously had a problem masturbating season one, but come season 2, Otis Milburn had most definitely overcome his, um, masturbation issue. In fact, he couldn't stop touching himself. As he's waiting in the car for Jean to return from an errand, Otis decides it's the perfect time for some self pleasure. But as she returns, Otis ejaculates all over the car window.
You're probably wondering how the hell they managed to make it all so real and it's all the work of a trusty prosthetic penis and coconut shampoo. On Instagram Stories, Gillian shared some behind-the-scenes images of the mixing process and the prosthetic penis lying on the car floor.
4) Speaking of strange substances, the "vomit" used for the hangover scenes is made from a mix of Innocent Smoothie and Weetabix
If you can't get the thought of Otis throwing up on his bike, this might make it a little more palatable. The vomit is actually just a mix of smoothie and Weetabix. And in case you're wondering, the concoction is actually delicious. "The vomit is a mix of Innocent Smoothie and Weetabix, which actually tastes quite nice," Asa admitted.
5) Aimee Gibbs and Adam Groff dated IRL
Sex Education's Aimee Gibbs and Adam Groff had a brief romance on the series but what you might not know is that Aimee Lou Wood and Connor Swindells were actually dating in real life too.
The couple first started dating after meeting on set in 2018. However, Aimee and Connor decided to keep their romance a secret for the first year, only going Instagram official in a post shared in celebration of Connor's 22nd birthday.
Sadly, Aimee and Connor parted ways in 2020. In an interview with Grazia, Aimee revealed that their split was amicable. She said: "We'd had some time apart and then we realised that maybe the relationship wasn't serving us both. We still really love each other and respect each other. It was an okay breakup, it wasn't dramatic."
6) Sex Education references a number of 1980s films
Since Sex Education began, fans have been confused about what year the series is actually set in. Despite being set in the UK, the show has a distinct American '80s vibe (although, the kids all use smartphones?!) Well, that is intentional.
Sex Education creator Laurie Nunn wanted to pay homage to popular movies of the 1980s. Because Laurie grew up watching classics like The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, she wanted to make the aesthetic similar to that of John Hughes' movies. ICYMI, Sex Education referenced The Breakfast Club in season 2 when the girls of Moordale bond in the library following Aimee's sexual assault ordeal. They also payed homage to Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
7) The forest we see in Sex Education is the same filming location used in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Thought you might recognise something in the forest scenes in Sex Education? Well, another movie was also filmed there. The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire appears in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 movie. And in the books, it's also Hagrid's birthplace.
The famed forest was used exclusively as a royal hunting ground for the Tudors and it's a stronghold for Britain's only venomous snake – the European Adder.
8) Emma Mackey almost didn't take her Sex Education role
We've all fallen in love with the tough and fiercely loyal Maeve Wiley, and in turn Emma Mackey, on Sex Education (It's hard to believe Sex Education is Emma's first TV role.)
But in an interview with Elle, Emma revealed she was unsure whether or not to take on the part. "I wasn't sure if I was even going to do it. I'd never done [a TV series] before, so it was quite a momentous thing to take on," she explained. "Luckily, it's been handled really beautifully and has been edited and cast really well. It sets the bar very high. Other jobs now, I'm kind of like, "Why isn't this like Sex Ed?"
Luckily, Emma quickly changed her mind. She continued: "It was a gift of a part; I couldn't really turn that down. I think any doubts I had were more about my nerves, my own sort of prudishness that I might've had at the time, being new and not knowing what was right for me."
9) Asa Butterfield's mum is a therapist IRL
Asa Butterfield does such a brilliant job of playing the lovable Otis Milburn that it's sometimes hard to differentiate him from his character. Otis' scenes with his sex therapist mum Jean particularly hit home and that might be because he has firsthand experience of what it's like having a therapist as a mother. Yep, Asa's mother, Jacqueline Farr, is actually a psychologist so the mother-son dynamic we see between Otis and Jean is something he is used to.
"Weirdly enough my mom is a psychologist, so there were a lot of similarities in their relationship," he told Today. "Less so the probing questions and more the openness of conversation and the willingness to talk and being able to be honest with each other, which I think is something a lot of mother and son relationships could do with more of."
Asa's mum actually helped him with the role. He continued: "I remember talking with my Mum about the role of the therapist at the beginning of the show and trying to figure out what sort of questions a therapist might ask and how much of yourself do you put into it, or do you just listen and respond without an agenda or an opinion. Otis eventually becomes a good therapist, but in the beginning he isn’t that good. So he’s also making mistakes that people just learning might also make."
10) None of the actors are actually naked
Sex is obviously a huge part of Sex Education. I mean the clue is in the title… There's plenty of sex scenes and steamy moments on the series. However, it might be surprising for you to learn that no-one is actually ever naked. The crafty production team actually use skin-coloured underwear and socks to protect the privacy of the actors.
11) Each sex scene is choreographed by an intimacy director
You might think the full-frontal sex scenes seem all too real but behind-the-scenes it's not quite as sexy. It turns out that each scene is choreographed by intimacy director Ita O'Brien, who makes them run through the scene like an intricate dance. And to prepare for the scenes, Ida even makes the cast watch then replicate videos of different animals mating…
12) Aimee Lou Wood almost played the role of Lily Iglehart
It's hard to imagine Aimee Lou Wood not in the role of Aimee Gibbs, but she actually started the auditioning process with her heart set on the role of Lily Iglehart (played by Tanya Reynolds).
In an interview with Collider, Aimee revealed that she received the lines for the role of Lily but while reading through them with her roommate, they suggested she would probably be more suited to Aimee. "I got through this audition that was for Lily. All I saw were Lily’s sides, so I didn’t see the rest of the script. I only saw Lily’s stuff and I thought she was hilarious and the show seemed amazing," Aimee explained.
"And then my friend, because of her job at the time, she read the scripts and she said to me, ‘Why aren’t you going in for Aimee? I feel like there’s a character in it called Aimee and she is your part,’ and I was like, ‘Well, I’ve got an audition for Lily.’ It was after the third audition that they were like, ‘We’re sorry, it’s not gonna go your way with Lily.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, it’s fine. That’s really sad because I really loved the show and it was kind of the first thing for so long that I’ve been dead excited about,’ and then they said, ‘But, can you come in tomorrow with this new character, Aimee?’"
She added: "And I remembered my friend saying it and then I got the sides through and I was just laughing so much because some of the things on that script were verbatim things that I have said in my life and I was like, 'Oh my god, this is it.'"
13) Moordale Secondary School used to be a university
Once upon time, the Moordale Secondary School building we have grown to recognise was actually University of South Wales' former Caerleon Campus, which was once home to 4,500 students. The building was closed in 2016 and remained empty until Sex Education producers came along and transformed it into Moordale.
14) The cast actually improvise a lot
Did you know that some of the most iconic Sex Education moments we see are actually the brainchild of the actors themselves? Case in point, Otis' infamous drunken dance moves in season 2.
Asa and Ncuti admitted that they are often given the option to improvise: "There's a lot of unscripted moments. Whether it's song and dance, or just noises or jumping under the table, or Ncuti jumping on my back. Ben [Taylor], the director, bless him, because he loves it. He just has us turn it up to the max and give him what we got," Asa told Buzzfeed.
Ncuti followed: "Yeah, we would do a take towards the end, maybe the last two takes, and Ben would be like, "Okay, guys, just go for gold."
15) There's a Stranger Things reference in season 1 that you probably missed…
Netflix managed to sneak a Stranger Things reference in Sex Education season 1. One eagle-eyed Redditor, noticed that the missing posters for Madam Groff were made in the exact same format as the missing poster for Will Byers.