Sex Education season 4 won't feature these two characters – and that's worrying

A promotional image for Netflix's Sex Education
(Image credit: Netflix)

Sex Education is gearing up for its fourth (and possibly final) season on Netflix – but two cast members have confirmed that they won’t be returning to the halls of Moordale.

Patricia Allison, who plays Ola in the hit Netflix show, recently revealed on Capital Xtra that she “won’t be joining the team” for Sex Education season 4, citing a wish to pursue “some other little things.”

Allison’s admission follows the departure of co-star Simone Ashley, whose ongoing commitments to another Netflix series, Bridgerton, mean she’s unable to reprise her role as Olivia Hanan in Sex Education’s forthcoming season. 

The absence of Allison’s Ola, in particular, will leave a large hole in the series’ upcoming episodes. Ola is the daughter of Mikael Persbrandt’s Jakob and love interest-turned-sister figure to Asa Butterfield’s Otis Milburn in Sex Education, and the headstrong character remained an important feature of the show’s plot throughout its first three seasons. 

Patricia Allison as Ola in Sex Education

Patricia Allison as Ola in Sex Education (Image credit: Netflix)

Olivia is something of a bit part role compared to Ola, but Ashley’s departure for other TV projects hints at the possibility of a potentially precarious trend for one of Netflix’s most celebrated series.

Several of Sex Education’s stars have, unsusprisingly, gone on to bag Hollywood-sized movie and TV roles in light of their Netflix breakouts, and it’s not clear whether all of the series’ core members will be able to return for season 4. 

Ncuti Gatwa, for instance, has been confirmed as the next Doctor Who, while Emma Mackey is currently filming alongside Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling for Greta Gerwig's highly-anticipated Barbie movie (in which Gatwa is also set to feature). The pair play Eric and Maeve, respectively, in Sex Education – two characters around which much of the series’ story has revolved.

Asa Butterfield (Otis) and Gillian Anderson (Jean) were already established actors when Sex Education premiered on Netflix in 2019, so their involvement in Sex Education season 4 seems (on paper, at least) a little more assured – but it’s hard to see how the show can continue in the same vein if several of its fan-favorite stars don’t return for more hormone-induced hijinks. 

When is season 4 coming to Netflix? 

In any case, Sex Education season 4 is coming to Netflix – the streamer just hasn’t yet confirmed when.

We do know that filming on new episodes kicked off on July 4, 2022 (as confirmed by a recent production listing), so we don't expect the show's fourth season to arrive any time this year. Our best guess for the new run's release is the first half of 2023, especially since the show's first and second seasons were both launched in January. 

Sex Education season 3

(Image credit: Netflix)

Still, we're pleased to see that Sex Education will definitely be returning, even if there’s only so many years that Moordale’s students can remain at the fictional school before it becomes illogical for them to continue roaming the classrooms as twenty-somethings destined for university. 

We'll share more details about season 4 as and when we get them – our dedicated hub contains everything we know right now. For more Netflix TV content, check out our roundup of the best Netflix shows, as well as our breakdown of Stranger Things season 4 and its pursuit of Squid Game’s viewership crown.

Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.