Here’s What The Cast Of Sex Education Really Think About Their Sex Scenes

As the series returns this week, we deep-dive into everything the young actors have said about recording their more intimate moments...

Sex Education Maeve and Jackson

by Georgia Aspinall |

As you can expect from a show with Sex Education in the title, Netflix’s hit series that returns on the 17th September is absolutely full of sex. Not in that creepy, gratuitous way that is usually just an excuse to see women’s bodies, but an authentic – and often hilarious – way that feels genuine to the representation of teen sex lives.

We’ve seen the show explore teen masturbation, first partnered sexual experiences – both with straight and queer couples – and experiences of difficulty orgasming and vaginismus. Frankly, it’s been refreshing – and popular with viewers too, with ‘Sex Education sex scenes’ a major search term for the show.

The sex scenes are set to thrive next season too, with the plot based around Moordale High students’ obsession with sex - although for many of us who were barely sexually active before 20, that might veer away from being so true to the teen experience.

But what do the Sex Education cast make of filming so many nude scenes? Most of the stars are in their early 20s, this Netflix hit being their breakout role, so does it ever get awkward diving into the deep end of nudity and sex on-screen (pun intended)?

Well, not according to Emma Mackey who plays Maeve Wiley. Last year, she told IndieWire that the entire cast sat down to talk about their Sex Education sex scenes – Maeve has a casual sexual relationship with school heartthrob Jackson Marchetti (played by Kedar Williams-Stirling) for most of season two – to air out any concerns.

‘Ita [O’Brien] was the intimacy coordinator, and before we started filming we had a whole day [with a] big ‘ole conversation with producers, directors, cast, about intimacy scenes, about our fears and worries, just a general conversation, really in depth, for hours,’ Emma Mackey explained. ‘Then in the afternoon, we had a workshop where we physicalized it more and we did animal rhythms and mating rhythms and stuff.

The most important thing is physical consent,’ she continued. ‘So it’s like a dance. We learn a dance. My scenes with Kedar [Williams-Stirling], who plays Jackson, for example — we would have Ita talk us through it, and then when we were on set we would put a dance together and we would talk about it with Ben [Taylor, the director] and we would be like, ‘Right, so we’re gonna kiss for three beats, and then you’re gonna put me against the wall, and you can touch me here, and then we’re gonna make out more and then you’ll lift me after four.’

The whole point, she says, was to ‘demystify’ the sex scenes and make them feel more practical and fun. ‘Suddenly you’re like, “Oh, actually this is fine,” because you’re almost making it mechanical,’ Emma said. ‘And the whole aim of the game is to make it look as real and truthful and messy as possible.’

It sounds like an excellent introduction to filming sex scenes as an actor then – and Ncuti Gatwa who plays Eric Effiong, agrees.

‘There’s not a human resources department in acting. You can’t file a complaint,’ he told IndieWire. ‘So putting these structures in place is important to help us do our job better. It’s important, because we are asked to do things that are absurd.’

For series lead Asa Butterfield, who plays Otis Milburn, the trust between the cast and directors took all his nerves away.

‘I think coming into season one, which is the first time I've had any sexual scenes of any nature really, I was a little bit nervous,’ he said during a Royal Television Society Q&A. ‘But I really trusted them, the directors, and there’s often a comedic element of it which takes some of the pressure off. And they’re never there for the sake of being there.’

I was at the pub once with Simone Ashley and these guys on another table were shouting about seeing our tits.

For Amiee Lou Reed though, who plays Aimee Gibbs on the show, having fewer sex scenes in the coming season is a weight off her shoulders. In a press conference for Sex Education season three, she told reporters of the new season, ‘I didn't have any [sex scenes]. Since season one, I just got them all out there…the only thing that we had – that isn’t even an intimate scene – was Chris Jenks and I bouncing on a trampoline. I got off scot-free, sex-scene wise this year!’

The breakout star of the show opened up to Grazia this month about being on a show so famous for its intimate moments, explaining that she and her castmates often have to deal with unsolicited comments on their bodies.

‘I was at the pub once with Simone [Ashley] who plays Olivia and these guys on another table were shouting, "I've seen your tits!"’ Aimee said. ‘Simone’s not a shrinking violet, if she thinks that someone is taking the piss out of her friend, she will go for you, she really inspires me in that way. So she called them out, she turned round and said, “How pathetic are you?” It was so withering, it was the perfect way to deal with them.’

So, while filming the sex scenes might not be too awkward for the cast, it’s certainly not all sunshine and roses. If only the world was as sex positive as the sex scenes filmed on Sex Education are, hey?

Read More:

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The New Sex Education Trailer Has Dropped And Fans Aren't Happy About The Lack Of Jackson And Viv

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