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Sex Education season 3: release date, cast, trailer and what we know

Sex Education season 3
(Image credit: Netflix)

If you're ready and waiting for Sex Education season 3 - and why on Earth wouldn't you? - the third batch of episodes following the social and sexual lives of the students, parents, and teachers in Moordale High is set to continue one of the best Netflix shows, and arguably the best Netflix Original series, to date. Sorry Stranger Things.

Set amid the gorgeous Welsh countryside, Sex Education's charm lies within its inclusive, nuanced ensemble cast. The initial premise of Otis giving sex advice at school for cash while his mother, Gillian Anderson's Jean, plied her sex therapist vocation responsibly, was quickly outgrown. Now we're excited to see more from characters featuring a refreshing variety of identities and orientations - a cast which now includes Jason Isaacs, so hello to him.

Sex Education season 3 wasn't lucky enough to escape the disruption to the entire entertainment industry caused by Covid-19, but filming has now resumed as of September, so we should be looking at a 2021 release. So, below we'll be taking you through everything you need to know about series including the cast we know so far, the latest production updates, and whether Otis and Maeve will finally stop messing around and get together already.

Sex Education season 3 release date predictions: 2021?

We expect the Sex Education season 3 release date to be summer 2021, now that filming is set to resume. The show did start filming but, like many others, it had to be postponed due to the coronavirus. But as time was running out on filming in 2020, as the show needs to be shot in the longer days of the British summer, an important decision was made by Netflix.

To prevent a potentially huge delay, filming resumed in September 2020, with an expected completion window of February 2021. All non-UK members of the cast will have to be in the county from August 23 to undergo a 14-day quarantine period.

Netflix commemorated the series' return to filming with the following video, featuring star Gillian Anderson:

Sex Education season 3 trailer: a teaser of what to expect next year

Fortunately, Netflix seems to understand exactly how thirsty Sex Education fans are for more of the show, and the streamer marked the season 3 renewal announcement with a teaser trailer. Much like season 2’s initial reveal trailer, which featured Gillian Anderson delivering a sultry monologue about the benefits of sex ed, the season 3 teaser is playfully narrated by Alistair Petrie’s Principal Groff.

We see the taciturn principal walking the halls of Moordale High, passing portraits of Sex Education’s main cast as he notes what the future could possibly hold for each of them. The teaser wraps up with an invitation to find out more in the Sex Education season 3, but stops short of a proper release date.

Sex Education season 3 cast: who we expect to return

While a full cast list for season three is yet to be confirmed, Netflix announced some exciting new names to the Sex Education season 3 cast in September. Jason Isaac's Peter Groff should prove an excellent foil to his headteacher brother, with recording artist Dua Saleh as a returning student who clashes with the new headmistress, Hope, played by Jemima Kirke (Girls, Tiny Furniture).

We also feel pretty confident in assuming the characters featured in the teaser video are returning. Series headliners Asa Butterfield (Otis Milburn) and Gillian Anderson (Dr Jean Milburn) are featured, along with a sizeable chunk of the supporting cast including Emma Mackey (Maeve Wiley), Ncuti Gatwa (Eric Effiong), Connor Swindells (Adam Groff) and Patricia Allison (Ola Nyman). Given how heavily season 2 leaned into an ensemble narrative approach, it would be difficult to imagine the show returning without the bulk of the cast reprising their roles.

And, if you're available for filming in the show's locations, including Newport and Cardiff in Wales, you could be in the cast, too. Casting agency Mad Dog is currently looking for 18-26-year-old extras for Sex Education season 3, as well as singers for a choir.

Sex Education season 3 story: what we expect from the next set of episodes

Series creator and writer Laurie Nunn was already hard at work on the script for a third season well before Netflix renewed the show

In an interview with LADbible, Nunn touches on the tight working schedule for the series, noting that the writing process of another season before confirmed renewal is a normal part of how TV production works. When asked about the potential for future stories, Nunn said, "I love writing these characters. It's such a big ensemble and I think the theme of the show – in terms of it being about sex and relationships – it really just offers up endless story opportunities."

Sex Education season 2 pivoted away from its focus on Otis and instead opted to lend almost equal time to the wonderfully diverse characters around him. The internet’s newest queer icon Eric (Gatwa) benefited the most from this shift in show structure, allowing for a nuanced and moving insight into the struggles of a young black queer man. His popularity clearly hasn’t gone without notice, as the teaser video for the third season is largely focused on the potential of his blooming romance with his former bully Adam.

While remaining tight-lipped on the Sex Education season 3 story, Butterfield said to Digital Spy  that he's "really happy" with the first episode and that "it didn't go where I anticipated it to. He added: "A few things have changed. I'm excited." We're also firmly with him when he says "I want more of Otis and Maeve." The will-they-won't-they relationship was frustratingly left Otis leaving a drunk love message on Maeve's answerphone, just as she seems to be falling for neighbour, Isaac.

(Image credit: Netflix)

Eric isn’t the only student with love on the brain, of course. The timeless 'will they, won’t they?' dance between Otis and Maeve (Mackey) seems set to come to a head. The somewhat divisive final scenes of season two saw Otis confess his love to Maeve in a voicemail, only for it to be deleted by Maeve’s new love interest before she could hear it. 

While some fans have been critical of this story beat as an artificial extension of the character’s ongoing love dilemma, the show’s director shrugs off any potential backlash. In a chat with BT, Ben Taylor says "I think shoes will be thrown at screens. In a good way. I love being p***ed off at stuff. You think you want it, but you don't”. 

There are plenty more threads featuring the supporting cast that need to be picked up in Sex Education season 3. Jean ends season two with a newfound appreciation for emotional intimacy with her on-again, off-again partner Jakob thanks to her friendship with Adam’s freshly divorced mother Maureen. Elsewhere, various students are now grappling with revelations about their identity and place in the world as they face the realities of sexual assault trauma, non-conventional identities and the looming prospects of the future. 

Sex Education is one of Netflix's best shows

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about further developments for the show, Nunn is excited about the places she and her writers can take the eclectic cast. “These characters ... they've got legs. I think I could do some more with them if we're given the chance,” she said. “[Netflix] is very supportive and really wanting us to tell the stories that we feel passionate about. It really feels like we're all on the same page, wanting to make the same show.”  

It’s an exciting prospect for a show primarily made by young, diverse talent both in front of and behind the camera. It’s not hard to see why Sex Education has resonated so deeply with fans. It offers a very human, non-judgemental look at the issues facing not just teenagers, but many adults who are still coming to terms with their own sexuality. Nunn’s writing is razor-sharp, and the show’s inclusive agenda makes it a fine addition to Netflix’s growing library of progressive media and stories. 

Bring on season 3.