Heartstopper’s set decorator shares moving statement after leaving show: ‘A part of queer history’

Heartstopper season two. (Netflix)

Heartstopper set decorator Maxwell Fine has announced his departure from Netflix’s smash-hit LGBTQ+ drama in a moving message to fans.

Keeping the same tight-knit team from the graphic novels through to the TV adaptation, the crew behind Netflix’s Heartstopper have been key to fans’ enjoyment of their favourite moments. 

Season two of the smash-hit adaptation of Alice Oseman’s beloved graphic novels has already been a huge hit with fans, and the wait is officially on to find out what happens to Nick and Charlie across seasons three and four. 

Viewers been particularly struck by how poignant season two is, after Oseman revealed that it would be “darker” and “more mature” – and have shared their admiration for how the second season looks, with some going as far as to say that certain scenes might be “award-winning.” 

In a heartfelt message to fans on Sunday (13 August), set decorator Fine shared that he would be leaving the show after what he described as “the greatest two years of my career”.

“Everyone who knows me is well aware that the past two years spent working on Heartstopper have been the highlight of my career,” he began.

You may like to watch

“I’m incredibly proud of the design work we accomplished and even prouder of collaborating with the most dedicated creative team in television. Our industry consistently holds a touch of magic in every corner.”

Fine, who has been with the show since its first episode, recalled the “laughter that filled our offices” while working with the creative team on Heartstopper.

“For me, creating Heartstopper has been a journey filled with laughter; I’ve chuckled uncontrollably to the point of having sore cheeks and tears streaming down my face!” he continued.

“We made bold decisions, wrangled budgets, and deliberated over every visual choice to ensure that we stayed true to Alice’s illustrations and our design format for the show.”

Fine went on to describe the significant effort that went in to bringing Oseman’s novels to life on the small screen.

“Back during the preparation for season one, I recognised the signature nature of this project and the importance of getting set decoration just right. At our initial read-through, I asked a million questions to attempt to begin to capture Alice’s visual style in every possible way.

“For me, the essence of set decoration is best captured when translating the script’s subtext into tangible on-screen dressing. This allows the action to take charge and exist synonymously within an environment.

“A distinct memory from season one stands out: a moment while driving home from set. I felt the weight of how much impact this show could have on the broader LGBTQ+ community. It’s a unique sensation to possess knowledge about a show yet to be unveiled. Everything remains hushed, preventing you from sharing the upcoming plans. Then, when the show finally airs, the world changes, and a new chapter begins.

Ash Self, Bel Priestley, Yasmin Finney

“Our sets underwent an on-screen transformation, paralleling the growth of characters. Season one laid the groundwork, allowing us to stretch and embrace the aesthetic in season two. Every choice, from fabric to cushions, from school bags to lamps, was made deliberately.

“We added personal touches, such as marking height notches on Charlie’s bedroom door and hand-painting motifs on Elle’s furniture.

“These sets aren’t just any old stage; they’re a testament to all of us, forming a part of queer history. The sets have a distinct queer energy, demanding meticulous attention to detail.”

Fine also described how working on Heartstopper had changed his life forever.

“This show has had a global impact, and from my corner of North London, it has significantly enhanced my life,” he added.

“Back in 2008, an 18-year-old named Maxwell dreamed of working in television. Now, armed with an Emmy award-winning series and cherished memories, I bid farewell, primed and charged to embrace new opportunities.

“Until we cross paths again, stand tall, show them all. Your dreams are within reach, even if the path ahead is uncertain. I hope you enjoyed our work as much as we enjoyed creating it for you.” 

Heartstopper fans were quick to share well wishes and messages of support, with one emotional response reading: “Thank you for being a part of something that makes so many people happy.” 

Maxwell’s husband-to-be Benji Haigh also weighed in on the news, re-posting the statement with the caption “so proud of this man”.

Fine has also worked on sets for shows including Wedding Season, Death to 2020 and Sick of It.

Heartstopper has been renewed for a third season, which is expected to be released during summer 2024.