Sex Education production secrets: 18 behind the scenes facts about the Netflix show
A lot of the most iconic quotes are improvised by the cast and not in the script
Sex Education is the show. It’s a Netflix staple now, and has become a lot of peoples’ favourite series. It combines being right in the cultural moment, painfully relatable, stunningly diverse and absolutely hilarious, and all together – it creates a show you just cannot miss. Plus, we’re all a little bit obsessed with the characters and cast in real life, which is completely fine to admit. But what goes into making a show like this? There are a lot of juicy production secrets behind what makes Sex Education the incredible show it is.
From taking 20 takes on certain scenes because the cast find them so funny, to making up their own lines – here are all the juiciest production secrets and behind the scenes facts about the making of Sex Education on Netflix.
1. Aimee Lou Wood originally auditioned for the role of Lily
Actress Aimee Lou Wood, who we now know as Aimee in Sex Education, actually auditioned for the role of Lily. In an interview, she said: “From my agent, 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. 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?’”
The role of Lily is now played by Tanya Reynolds.
2. ‘Wash you hands, you detty pig’ was improvised by Ncuti Gatwa
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Ncuti revealed that the iconic line in the toilets where Eric calls another student a “detty pig” and demands he washes his hands, wasn’t actually in the script. He says the show’s director overheard him calling Asa Butterfield (Otis) a dirty pig and said he had to get it into that scene.
3. *That* iconic poo in a sock scene took 20 takes
You know the season three scene I mean, how could you forget? But yes, the poo in the sock coach scene took 20 takes, because the cast literally found it so hilarious they couldn’t stop laughing about it. Mimi Keene, who plays Ruby, said this was her favourite scene of season three to film, saying: “We’re all gathered round on a school trip. There’s a certain scene, which is just the funniest scene… so so funny. When you laugh so much, and people are like, ‘come on guys, we really need to get the scene and stop laughing!'”.
Chinenye Ezeudu, who plays Viv, then said it took them about 20 takes to get it right because of the laughter. The director had to rush the cast to get it done because it was taking so long that it was getting dark!
4. Asa Butterfield also has a favourite improvised line of his
Asa Butterfield has also revealed some of his scenes as Otis were improvised by him. In season two he hosts a party and got *very* drunk. He said a lot of his drunk slurs were made up on the spot, his personal fave being when he said: “I’m gonna get another drink cos there’s sick in this one”. His dance moves in the scene were also completely improvised, which is a little bit iconic from him.
5. In fact, the cast are encouraged to improvise with the scripts
Asa and Ncuti often play around with their scripts, and use their natural chemistry and understanding of their characters Otis and Eric to make up some of their lines. Plus, the show’s director will often “whisper in the ears” of the cast little inserts he thinks are funny and they should say. For example, it was a last minute decision from director, Ben Taylor, for Aimee to say “Maeve, that’s Steve” when Maeve asks who the goat in the back of their car in season three is.
6. Connor Swindells made up the moment where he put all the shop stickers on his face
As well as the words they say, some of the actor’s actions are completely made up on the spot. Connor Swindells has said he came up with the part where Adam started sticking price stickers on his face in season two. “Season two with the sticker gun, that was a move that I pulled when I was in the shop that I thought would make people laugh… A lot of the time it’s me trying to make Ben the director laugh, and then he puts it in the show,” he said.
7. The scenes with Eric going to Nigeria nearly didn’t happen
One of the highlights of season three is when Eric goes to Nigeria for a family wedding. But it nearly didn’t happen, and you guessed it, it was because of the pandemic. Ncuti said: “We had no idea how we were going to pull any of the Nigeria stuff, had no idea of that storyline could even go ahead because obviously there was a pandemic where are we going to film it? It was very stressful.” He added that he is glad they found a way to do the scenes, adding the storyline “felt very special and very empowering” and that he “really enjoyed it”.
8. The cast had to watch videos of different animals having sex as part of their intimacy training?!
Ahead of filming, to prepare for sex scenes, the cast did a workshop with intimacy director Ita O’Brian, which included them watching videos of animals mating. According to the cast, they watched lions, cats and even slugs doing the deed.
9. Asa goes around the set greeting everyone
If you didn’t already think Asa Butterfield is wholesome you’re about to, because apparently every day he goes around the cast and crew greeting everyone. Aimee Lou Wood said: “Asa, even if we’ve seen each other the day before, always greets everyone like he’s not seen them for weeks. It’s so cute! He’ll walk on to the makeup truck and he’ll say hi to every single person on there. He might’ve wrapped like 12 hours before, and he’ll be coming and saying hi to everyone. And when he leaves, he says goodbye to everyone individually like he’s not gonna see them for a year – it’s just the sweetest thing!”
10. Aimee’s sexual assault storyline is based on writer Laurie Nunn’s own experiences
The writer behind Sex Education has revealed Aimee’s storyline of sexual assault in season two was inspired by her own experiences. In an interview with The Times, Laurie Nunn said a “threatening man” exposed himself to her on a bus after he put his bag on her feet to prevent from her escaping. “I froze in that moment, then ran off the bus and burst into tears,” she said. “I did report it later, but for ages, I couldn’t go on public transport, I was too frightened.”
She added: “A conversation needs to be had around how people can step in and help. This situation is a truth all women know. We live with this constant possibility of threat, it is exhausting.”
11. Ncuti makes a playlist for each season to inspire getting into character
Ncuti Gatwa has said he will make a playlist including a song for each of Eric’s scenes which reflects his journey. It’s featured tracks such as Don’t Judge Me by FKA Twigs. He also imagines what star sign he thinks his characters are (Eric is a Leo in his mind, in case you’re wondering) and all this helps him to characterise his roles more.
12. Asa was inspired by Mr Bean with how he portrays Otis
Otis is a little ditsy and bumbling at times, which is actually because Asa Butterfield takes some inspiration from Rowan Atkinson in his character. “I think there’s sort of shades of Mr. Bean in Otis, especially when he dances,” he said.
13. A lot of juicy scenes have been cut from the show in the past
A few scenes have been cut from the final series in the past. Aimee Lou Wood revealed that one scene featuring Aimee and her mum had to be cut so that very important scenes in her bus storyline made sense. One scene which never made the final episodes included Aimee speaking to her mum about what happened. She told Digital Spy: “It’s after the girls have all been smashing stuff and then she goes back… but it kind of felt like, and I get it, it felt like a bit of a double ending, because all the girls waiting for Aimee and saying, ‘We’re all getting the bus’… that was her catharsis, that moment.
“She [Aimee] comes back, she tells her mum, they have this amazing scene, and then the next scene would be all the girls waiting. So they had to pick one of the two and I’m really glad they picked all the girls waiting because it’s my favourite scene ever. But the scene with Susan, she was so bloody brilliant in it and we were a bit smug on the day.”
Aimee added another strange scene was cut from season one. She said: “It was us all singing All Saints in the car, and it was so good… with a lizard. I was so sad it didn’t make it in. It was really fun though.”
14. During the sex scenes the cast aren’t actually naked
Naturally, Sex Education comes with a lot of sex scenes – and one of the arts of the show is how realistic it looks, which takes a few little production secrets. Production includes using tiny, skin-colored underwear and cotton socks to cover certain body parts.
15. There have been a few *choice* liquids used to make scenes look realistic
I’m trying to be as proper as possible here, but there’s no use. Basically, in the first season when Otis is caught masturbating in the car by Jean a prosthetic penis was used and the liquid that ended up all over the car window was coconut shampoo. In later scenes, Otis is hungover riding his bike to school and he throws up. What actor Asa Butterfield actually had to project out of his mouth was a mixture of Weetabix and Innocent Smoothie. Lovely.
16. Otis’ wonderful moustache is not real!!!!
One of the running jokes in season three is the new addition of a moustache on Otis’ face. However, it isn’t actually real and sounds like it took a lot of work to make it perfectly imperfect. According to Asa, it was first sketched out and then sent to someone who tied individual hairs onto a piece of lace which was attached to his face.
17. The dog Ruby owns belongs to her in real life!
You know that poor dog that appears to be left in Ruby’s locker at school all day? It actually belongs to the actor who plays Ruby, Mimi Keene, in real life! It’s called Baby, and Mimi has been trying to get it a role in the show since the first season.
18. Yes, the actors really are besties in real life too
This is not exactly one of the best kept Sex Education production secrets, because just one look on their Instagrams and you can see that all the cast hang out and adore each other off camera, too. But just to confirm it, Emma Mackey told the Guardian: “We all get on stupidly well. It is just a warm thing. And when you watch it, it feels warm, and you get that little tingly nice feeling, and also you want to cry. It just brings out all of these emotions.”
Season three of Sex Education is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.