Sex Education creator Laurie Nunn: ‘You can’t make sex scenes flowery!’

Sex Ed creator Laurie Nunn

She scored a global smash with her TV debut. As the taboo-busting show is green-lit for a return, the writer reveals how she turned teenage dorkiness – and her own experience of sexual assault – into dynamite drama

Laurie Nunn is remembering her own experience of sex education. It was, she says, “practically nonexistent” at her school, which is ironic, given that she is responsible for one of the most candid TV shows ever made about the subject. “They didn’t talk about female pleasure at all,” says the writer. “I’m in my 30s and I feel like I’m only now starting to get the right language to talk about my own body. I think, ‘God, I wish I’d known this stuff when I was in my 20s.’”

When Sex Education was picked up, Nunn had no big credits to her name. She had written and directed a couple of short films and had worked up ideas for production companies, but nothing had quite landed. Then, suddenly, she had a hit – such a hit that Netflix’s UK headquarters now has a Sex Education-themed floor. (We meet on the Stranger Things floor, though. Perhaps the Sex Education floor would have been just too weird.)

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How ‘Sex Education’ Star Asa Butterfield’s Therapist Mom Helped Him Prepare for His Role

For his role as amateur sex therapist, the charming star of Netflix’s hit teen sex comedy found a valuable resource close to home.

When it premiered on Netflix in 2018, “Sex Education” immediately resonated with audiences for its clever comedy, sex positive message, heart-wrenching romance, and exceedingly likable and relatable characters. While the show’s second season expanded the ensemble to ever more colorful characters, the heart and soul of “Sex Education” will always be fumblingly sweet, sometimes self-involved, but generally kindhearted Otis Milburn. Played to charismatic teenage boy perfection by Asa Butterfield, Otis is the epitome of boy next door charm coursing with a gentle current of hormonal teenage angst. There’s no question why both Maeve (Emma Mackey) and Ola (Patricia Allison) are in love with him, and why he has the coolest best friend in town (Ncuti Gatwa’s Eric) — Otis is, to put it plainly, a total peach.

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Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa is hot

Ncuti Gatwa stars as Eric Effiong in ‘Sex Education.’ Right now, he may be the hottest star on the hottest show on Netlix

Eric is Otis Milburn’s best friend and one of the show’s most beloved characters. He is gay, loves drag and his season 1 arc focuses on him growing more confident in his own skin. Season 2 finds Ncuti torn between two guys, his former bully Adam and new kid on the block Rahim.

He grew up in Edinburgh in Scotland and his parents are from Rwanda. In an interview with the Guardian, Ncuti said he was a toddler when he and his family moved from Rwanda as refugees, fleeing the genocide. Ncuti then grew up in Oxgangs and Fife in Scotland [ . . . ]

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Emma Mackey: ‘No, not all French people want to have sex all the time’

The Sex Education actor talks about her Irish roots and her Anglo-French upbringing


Some parts of the French film industry have, it seems, clanked back into action. Emma Mackey, Anglo-French star of Netflix’s Sex Education, has been shooting Eiffel, a drama concerning the designer of the titular tower, since the beginning of June. How odd to speak to a resident of the Planet Normal.

“It is one the rare films,” she explains. “It’s not the case with everyone. As you can imagine, the protocols are extremely strict. We have to be very careful and our producer worked very hard to get us back on track. But it’s good.”

Lockdown arrived at a busy time for Ms Mackey. She is about to be everywhere. By one measure, Sex Education was the third most-watched show on Netflix during the Covid emergency (one place ahead of Tiger King, according to trackers at Reelgood). We hope to see her in Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile before the autumn is out. In early July, she will be remotely present at the digital incarnation of the Galway Film Fleadh. Mackey stars as a troubled midlander in Phil Sheerin’s spooky The Winter Lake, which will receive its world premiere at this year’s one-off online event.

 Shot in Leitrim and Sligo, the picture co-stars Anson Boon, Michael McElhatton and Charlie Murphy in a tale of sombre omens, hidden abuse and sublimated passions. I can’t imagine what she expected of the shoot.

Mackey says she “felt at home” on the shoot, and, as you might expect for a Mackey, she has deep Irish roots

“I didn’t have any expectations,” she says. “I knew that I’d be there for a month. And I knew that I wanted to do the film very badly. It just came at a time when I felt like I needed it. I loved it. I stayed there for the entire month and didn’t go back to London. I made the choice to kind of stay there just so I could be in that world. It is so wild. I felt at home.”

There is a something of a chamber-piece dynamic to the interactions between the four characters. Based on a screenplay by David Turpin, The Winter Lake could almost work as a play.

“There were so few cast members that it was really nice to just spend time with those few people and really get to have proper conversations with everyone and get to know each other and fool around. That was really, really fun.”

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