Netflix's Sex Education is undergoing some growing pains. The successful series, which has launched multiple A-list careers in the last year, is losing cast members right and left ahead of filming for Season 4, which is scheduled to start later this summer. Some are due to the show's success; some are due to the careers it helped create, while others are merely the product of an evolving show. The upshot is a series that is starting to look like it will be very different when it finally returns to streaming.
When Netflix initially announced Sex Education in November 2017, it seemed a natural progression of Netflix's original series. The streaming service was still leaning heavily at that point on a massive influx of BBC and ITV programs to help fill out its offerings; The Crown Seasons 1 and 2 were seeing decent success. A raunchy British teen comedy that would companion well with recent hits like Big Mouth seemed a no-brainer. Starring Asa Butterfield from Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children as the awkward Otis and Gillian Anderson (fresh off The Fall) as his sex therapist mother, it seemed a teen comedy hit bound to run well for a few seasons.
But viewers could not have foreseen how many successful careers would come out of the show's cast. The most substantial currently is Simone Ashley, who played Olivia in the show's first three seasons. Having landed the lead role of Kate Sharma in Bridgerton Season 2, which will continue as part of the ensemble in Seasons 3 and 4, she is now exiting Sex Education due to scheduling conflicts between the two series. But sadly, she's not the only one heading out. Tanya Reynolds, who has played fan-favorite (and hairstyle genius), Lily Iglehart, she of the alien erotica, has also announced her departure.
Sex Education Season 4 picks up with the closing of Moordale Secondary School and students being reshuffled to different districts, giving the series an excellent excuse to cover the turnover. It will be a critical point in the show's transition from its original premise with two big stars into a larger rotating ensemble that can run for years, Degrassi-style. Speaking to the RadioTimes, Reynolds said, "It's just the natural progression of these shows -- when you have such big ensemble casts and so many characters, I think you have to let a few older characters go to make way for newer ones, which is absolutely the right thing, the way it should happen."
Losing Lily isn't that unexpected, as Patricia Allison, who played Lily's girlfriend, Ola Nyman, recently revealed she would not be back for Season 4. Both Reynolds and Allison have multiple projects in the pipeline; Reynold's latest project, I Hate You, is debuting soon on Channel 4, and she's already filmed the live-action version of Harold and The Purple Crayon. Allison will next be seen in the anti-colonialist western Paradise, where she stars as Ella Patchet. She's currently also filming a new superhero TV series, Extraordinary, which stars Siobhán McSweeney (Derry Girls) as the only one without powers in a world full of heroes, and will be streaming on Disney+ next year.
But the biggest question remains if Ncuti Gatwa will be back as Otis' BFF and one of the show's most beloved characters, Eric Effiong. Though he won't debut until 2023, Gatwa has been tapped to star as the Fourteenth iteration of the Doctor in Doctor Who. Of all the Sex Education alumni, he is about to become one of the biggest A-listers the show has produced yet, taking on the lead role of a series celebrating its 60th anniversary as its first Black and openly gay star. The Doctor Who 60th anniversary is currently filming, so it could be complete in time for Gatwa to do both, but so far, the actor has not confirmed if he'll be back.
Sex Education Season 4 is expected to debut on Netflix sometime in 2023.