Netflix’s Sex Education stars share their embarrassing sex ed stories

The Sex Education cast

Asa Butterfield, Emma Mackey and Ncuti Gatwa from Netflix’s hit show Sex Education have opened up about their weirdest stories from sex education at school.

Speaking to PinkNews, Butterfield, who plays lead character Otis, said that he had been unable to open a condom wrapper during one of his more memorable sex education lessons.

Sex Education follows Otis and his friend Maeve (Mackey) as they set up a sex clinic at their school, based somewhere in the UK, in order to give their peers relationship therapy sessions. Gatwa plays Otis’ openly gay best friend, Eric. The show has been praised for its inclusion of LGBT+ characters and relationships. 

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“I do remember one vivid image of me failing to open a condom wrapper, being quite embarrassed because I couldn’t get it open,” Butterfield said.

Sex Education‘s Asa Butterfield: I couldn’t open a condom wrapper

Butterfield, 21, said he had to hand the wrapper to someone else, who opened it for him.

He said that he then had to “put it on the fat, plastic penis… except it was like a blue dildo.”

“I do remember one vivid image of me failing to open a condom wrapper.”

—Asa Butterfield

Butterfield joked: “It’s cemented in my head.”

Mackey, who plays Maeve, meanwhile, said she barely had a grounding in sex education in school.

Emma Mackey: We didn’t even learn how to put condoms on

“I had one class my entire school career and we didn’t even learn how to put condoms on,” Mackey said.

“It was just a bit odd. I remember my science teacher talking about erogenous zones, and she was like, ‘Ears for example can be really…’

“And I was like, ‘I mean, fine, but is this really the place and the time?'”

The 23-year-old rising star, who has had to fend off comparisons to Margot Robbie, added: “But we never really learnt the basics of it so it wasn’t really awkward, I suppose, more weird.”

Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa: My sex education was “quite thorough”

Gatwa, however, who went to school in Scotland, spoke positively of his experience of sex education.

The 26-year-old star, who plays Otis’ openly gay best friend Eric, joked: “I don’t really have any [weird stories]… in Scotland we started very early because people are getting it in very early.”

He continued: “We started at eight, my sex education, but it was all very quite thorough… we covered everything.

“But there was no really awkward moments, other just being a teenager…. apart from like the teacher says ‘vagina’ and you’re like, ‘Hahaha!'”

Gatwa went on to praise Scotland’s government for pledging to embed LGBT+ content throughout the curriculum at state schools, while stressing the importance of getting LGBT+ inclusive sex education in UK schools.

“There was no really awkward moments, other just being a teenager… apart from like the teacher says ‘vagina’ and you’re like, ‘Hahaha!'”

—Ncuti Gatwa

“I would just like to go on the record and say that Scotland has already started the magic happening and that everybody else should follow suit,” he said.

Asked if the UK needs better sex education in schools, Mackey responded: “100 percent. I feel like the response from a lot of people has been that they wished that this show had existed when they were younger. [I’ve even had] my grandparents telling me that.

“I think that says it all, really. We’ve come a long way and that this show is probably going to help promote conversations and openness and communication about all things sex.”

In March, the British government passed the Children and Social Work Act (2017), which pledges to make Relationships Education (RE) and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory in all schools in England.

As part of this, the government is updating the sex education guidance, which was last reviewed in 2000 when the anti-LGBT+ Section 28 banning the “promotion” of homosexuality was still in place.

But, while the latest draft guidance specifically mentions LGBT people, Stonewall has said that “there were still areas where it risked failing to meet the needs of LGBT young people.”

Sex Education is streaming now on Netflix globally.