The fourth and final season of Sex Education is here and we’re saying goodbye to Otis, Eric, Maeve and the rest of our favourite Moordale Secondary students.
Since it first aired in 2019, the Netflix series has been praised for its realistic and educational portrayals of sex and this time round is no different, with more intimate scenes than ever before – including some we’ve been waiting for since season one!
So, Cosmopolitan UK chatted with the intimacy coordinator of Sex Education, David Thackery, who has worked on the show since season two all about the cast, preparing for sex scenes and what it’s really like on set.
How do you help in preparing the cast for their intimate scenes in Sex Education?
I speak with producers, read scripts, chat with the director then talk to the actors to see if they have any concerns or questions. I’ll ask them what they feel comfortable with, their thoughts on the nudity and from that point, I’ll make sure the costume department has the garments we need for those scenes.
On the day, the process stays the same. I or the other intimacy coordinators are present and it’s a closed set. We have an agreement of consent, we mark where actors are happy to be touched and it’s very choreographed so they know exactly what their position will be, how they will do it and where the cameras will be.
One massive part of my process is taking away the mystery for those actors and answering any questions they have that could make them feel anxious. I answer that before we’ve even got to set in a phone call, and what’s beautiful about this cast is they know what they’re doing now.
Which actors in Sex Education are the most collaborative when it comes to intimate scenes?
Asa [Butterfield], who plays Otis, is already ahead of the process with me and will say ‘I feel comfortable with that, and I definitely don’t feel comfortable with that’. It’s very easy.
He’s brilliant. He’s understanding of the shots, where the camera will be. He’s like ‘OK, I need to move my arm here’ and I’m like, ‘yeah man!’ He’s just a joy to work with, they all are but I’ve just worked with him so much over the seasons.
How does an intimacy coordinator influence the nude sending scenes, such as when Otis and Maeve send pictures to each other in season four episode one?
Right from the get-go, we think about how we’re going to shoot those scenes and consider what the storyline is and why it’s happening. I think it's great that it's been brought up in the series, because it happens in real life. What I love about it is Otis’ reaction and there's the realisation of him thinking ‘Oh, do I have to send one?’ He plays it so well.
Editor’s note: Body doubles were used for scenes where Otis and Maeve send nudes to each other.
What about masturbation scenes?
The process stays the same, because although consent and touch isn’t agreed with another person, it’s to do with the actor. We ask ‘where does my hand go?’, ‘where will the camera be?’ and ‘what will you see?’.
We’ll discuss levels of tension, quality of touch and we really break it down technically. I always ask the director for a really clear end point so the actor isn’t sat wondering when they’ll call cut.
Did you have a favourite sex scene from Sex Education season four?
Otis and Maeve's. From the nude scenes where they’re trying to work out their intimacy over a long-distance relationship to where they try to have sex and they face speed bumps and hurdles. Finally, we get to the Ross and Rachel scene where the characters have sex and I think it’s beautifully done.
There’s a lot of pressure for a big moment like that, so there’s lots of discussions happening. It’s not a fast or quick moment, it’s one of connection and togetherness, and we see Otis take the lead, they’re laughing and smiling. We’re constantly talking about the emotional journey here.
How does the role of an intimacy coordinator help make Sex Education the show that it is?
You can see how comfortable the cast are and afterwards, they'll say ‘oh, I’m so glad you were there’. You also take away pressure from actors who may feel they have to say yes or worry that they’re being difficult. You’re there to talk about consent, boundaries and respect. If it’s not working for them, we’ll figure it out in a way that makes the actor feel comfortable.
Sex Education is streaming on Netflix now.
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