They grow up so fast. From relatively humble beginnings in January 2019, Sex Education has gone onto become a world-conquering phenomenon. It has launched the careers of several fresh-faced actors (some have gone stratospheric), has helped normalise discussions around sex and sexuality in television, and has won awards galore.
It also boasts an enormous ensemble cast. With loads of names to wrap your head around, and even more joining for the final season, we’ve broken down the cast list into a handy guide of who’s starring – and who they play.
Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn
The long-suffering son of sex therapist Jean, we first meet Otis as he sets up an amateur sex advice clinic on campus with social outcast Maeve, with the aim of helping the pupils of Moordale Secondary school with their sexual health and relationship issues. Since then, he’s matured – in addition to deciding he wants to pursue therapy as a career, he’s managed to date the most popular girl in school, gain the respect of his peers and work through some of his own issues, too.
Season three ended with Otis finally getting together with Maeve after an extended will-they-won’t-they plot arc, and with Moordale Secondary being closed down for good. Now it looks like he’s about to start at a whole new school – and with that comes a whole new series of challenges.
Who is Asa Butterfield?
Butterfield has been a mainstay on the small screen for years. Born in Islington in 1997, he began acting at the age of 7 and in 2008 was cast as one of the main roles in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Since then, he’s not stopped, appearing in Ender’s Game, A Brilliant Young Mind, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and even an episode of Merlin.
Gillian Anderson as Jean Milburn
The sexually liberated Jean is a qualified sex therapist with a messy past. She separated from Remy, Otis’s father, years before the start of the series and has no-strings-attached sex with a variety of men over the course of the series. By the end of series three, she’s in a relationship with Swedish plumber Jakob and ends up having a child with him – which almost kills her.
Who is Gillian Anderson?
Where haven’t you seen Gillian Anderson? She’s perhaps best known for being the Scully to David Duchovny’s Mulder in hit 90s series The X-Files – though she’s also appeared in The Crown, The Fall and American Gods. Born in Chicago, her family moved to London when she was young, in order for her father to attend London Film School.
When she was 11, the family moved back to the US, but kept a flat in London – and Anderson has long cited her love for the UK in interviews. In 2013, she addressed the issue in an interview with BlogTalk Radio, saying "I’ve been asked whether I feel more like a Brit than an American and I don’t know what the answer to that question is. I know that I feel that London is home and I’m very happy with that as my home. I love London as a city and I feel very comfortable there. In terms of identity, I’m still a bit baffled.”
Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong
Eric is introduced in season one as one of the only openly gay students at Moordale Secondary school. He initially has a crush on popular kid Anwar – though by the end of season two, he ends up developing feelings for his former bully, Adam Groff. The pair eventually end up dating, though Adam’s reticence to come out to his family annoys Eric, and during a family trip to Nigeria he ends up drunkenly kissing a stranger in a gay club.
Season three ended with Eric breaking up with Adam; come season four, he’s set to start a new school alongside Otis for his final year of Sixth Form.
Who is Eric Effiong?
Sex Education was Ncuti Gatwa’s breakout role. Born in Rwanda in 1992, his family escaped the Rwandan genocide and moved to Scotland in 1994; Gatwa was brought up in Edinburgh and Dunfermline.
Since being cast as Eric (a role for which he was nominated for a BAFTA Best Male Comedy Performance three times) he has gone onto appear in Greta Gerwig’s smash hit Barbie, and in early 2022 he was announced as the newest incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who, taking over from Jodie Whittaker at the end of this year.
Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley
Maeve is the social pariah of Moordale Secondary when we first meet her – nicknamed ‘cock biter’ for her apparent sexual proclivities. She initially starts the sex clinic with Otis as a way of earning money to pay her rent (she lives alone in a trailer park near the school). As time goes on, she and Otis develop feelings for each other, but neither act on them until the end of season three; before that, she has flings with popular boy Jackson Marchetti and her neighbour Isaac.
Maeve is also very intelligent – despite being expelled from school, she is readmitted on the basis of her grades and joins quiz team The Quiz Heads. Season three ends with her being admitted to a prestigious writing school in America.
Who is Emma Mackey?
Emma Mackey is another breakout star of Sex Education. Born in 1996 in Les Mans, a region of France, she was raised in Nantes and came to the UK to study English Literature at Leeds University. Sex Education was her first professional role – something for which Mackey has won acclaim – and since then she has gone onto star in Greta Gerwig’s megafilm Barbie, in Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile and as Emily Brontë in 2022 film Emily. Expect big things.
Aimee Lou Wood as Aimee Gibbs
Aimee is the scatterbrained best friend of Maeve. Constantly cheery, she nevertheless has had her fair share of issues to work through over the course of the series: in series two, she was sexually assaulted in the bus to school, and her attempts to come to terms with that and move forward have seen her embrace sex positivity as a result.
Who is Aimee Gibbs?
Born in 1994, Wood hails from Stockport in Greater Manchester. After attending RADA, she was cast as Aimee in Sex Education, for which she won a TV BAFTA for Best Female Comedy Performance in 2021. However, she has concentrated on the stage since then – appearing as Sally Bowles in the West End production of Cabaret at the Kit-Kat Club in 2023 and as Sonya in 2020’s Uncle Vanya.
Connor Swindells as Adam Groff
Adam Groff has had quite a journey over three seasons. Initially starting out as a bully (especially to Eric), Adam is packed off to military school in season two due to his poor performance at school, and when he’s kicked out of that too, he comes home and attempts to rejoin Moordale. In addition to coming to terms with his bisexuality, he starts a relationship with Eric, but his reluctance to come out to his family and be more open about their romance leads to Eric dumping him at the end of season three.
Who is Connor Swindells?
Swindells was born in 1996 in Lewes, Sussex. He dropped out of college at 17, but began acting when his friend dared him to audition for an upcoming play.
He made his on-screen debut in 2017 on TV show Harlots, and he was cast in Sex Education in 2019. In addition to starring as Adam, he took on the leading role of David Stirling in Steven Knight’s World War II drama SAS: Rogue Heroes, for which is set to reprise the role. Like Ncuti Gatwa and Emma Mackey, he also appeared in Barbie, as Mattel pen-pusher Aaron Dinkens.
George Robinson as Isaac Goodwin
One of the show’s newer cast members, Isaac first appears in season two as Maeve’s neighbour in the caravan park where she lives. Despite a frosty start, the pair eventually become close – close enough that Isaac jealously deletes a voicemail message from Maeve ‘s phone, in which Otis finally confesses his feelings for her. Eventually, Isaac tells her that his disability – he is tetraplegic – is the result of falling out of a tree aged ten.
Maeve forgives him and the pair start a relationship, only to break it off after she confesses her feelings to Otis.
Who is George Robinson?
Born in Nottingham in 1997, Robinson suffered a accident while on a school rugby tour in South Africa in 2015. He suffered an acute spinal cord injury while attempting a rugby tackle, and is tetraplegic as a result. He was heavily involved in the creation of Isaac, whose disability was written around his real-life one. Two years after the accident, Robinson began studying at the University of Birmingham, after recieving an unconditional offer to study philosphy, but put his degree on pause after being cast in Sex Education.
Mimi Keene as Ruby Matthews
Ruby is one of the original Mean Girls of Moordale Secondary. Always impeccably dressed and flanked by her two friends Anwar and Olivia, she nevertheless becomes involved with Otis in season two, dating him until he breaks up with her in pursuit of Maeve. Though sarcastic and sometimes mean, there is more to Ruby than meets the eye: she is also a carer for her seriously ill father.
Who is Mimi Keene?
Born in London in 1998, Mimi Keene was a child actress who got her big break playing EastEnders regular Cindy Williams between 2013 and 2015. In 2019, she joined the cast of Sex Education as Ruby.
Kedar Williams-Stirling as Jackson Marchetti
Popular guy around school and Head Boy Jackson has been on quite a journey over the three seasons. Starting as Moordale’s prize swimming champion, Jackson has always struggled with reconciling outside pressure on him to succeed with his own wants and desires. After a fling with Maeve in season one, a swimming injury forced him to reconsider his priorities.
He became close friends with Vivienne Odusanya (Chinenye Ezeudu) and tried his hand at acting; in season three he became romantically involved with new non-binary student Cal, though Cal ultimately broke up with him, saying they believe that Jackson sees them as a girl.
Who is Kedar Williams-Stirling?
Born in Newham, London in 1994, Williams-Stirling started acting in primary school, eventually auditioning for the Sylvia Young Theatre School in Year 6 and later attending the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. In addition to appearances in Small Axe and CBBC show Wolfblood, he’s also currently starring at the Bush Theatre in a play called Red Pitch, about three boys attempting to make it big in football.
Dua Saleh as Cal Bowman
Cal is a new student at Moordale in season three. Originally from Minneapolis, they are introduced as non-binary, which quickly causes issues with the season’s strict and conservative headmistress, Hope. Cal befriends Jackson, and their friendship eventually turns romantic – though Cal eventually calls things off, the pair decide to remain friends.
Who is Dua Saleh?
Dua Saleh is a Sudanese-American singer and actor. Born in Sudan, their family fled the country as refugees from war in the 1990s, moving to Eritrea, then to America. Saleh wrote poetry from an early age and began to experiment with music at university – where they studied sociology and gender. They came out as non-binary while at university, but have since said that they had “always been on gay shit.”
Den Levy as Mr Molloy
Schitt’s Creek’s very own Dan Levy is set to appear in season four as the mysterious Mr Molloy. Not much is known about his character yet, except that he’s a cult author who is also Maeve’s tutor during her American term abroad.
However, Levy himself is an industry stalwart. Born in Toronto, he started his career with MTV before shooting to fame after writing, directing and acting in beloved sitcom Schitt’s Creek. Though US-based, he has previously said that London is his “favourite city”, after moving there in 2005.
Not much is yet known about Thaddea Graham’s character, but her star has been on the rise for a while. Born in China, she was left on a doorstep at three days old by her parents; she then became one of the first international adoptees from China to Ireland after being adopted by a Belfast family. After finishing school, she attended drama school and has since appeared in shows like BBC Three’s Wreck, Doctor Who, and as a series lead in Netflix show The Irregulars.