As the Netflix hit Sex Education comes back for series two, we follow Otis, Eric, Maeve, and their motley crew of friends and family as they navigate through the tricky topic mentioned in the show's title - 'sex education'. And while they may not find any easy answers, they do find some epic locations, mostly based around the beautiful borderlands between Wales and England. We also asked the cast about filming in Wales!
Read on for our guide to some of the most stunning places you'll see on the show.
Wye Valley locations
Many of the locations used in Sex Education were filmed around the River Wye, in the heart of the stunningly beautiful Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Wye Valley is widely thought of as the birthplace of modern tourism, after an event that took place in 1770. William Gilpin took a boat tour down the River Wye which moved him so deeply he then wrote the first tourist guide to be published in Britain, Observations on the River Wye and Several Parts of South Wales’.
As Gilpin says, "If you have never navigated the Wye, you have seen nothing".
The show has been described as mid-Atlantic in tone and look, so it's no wonder these locations were chosen as the sweeping backdrops. The lovely village of Tintern, and the towns of Monmouth and Llandogo feature regularly in the show. Browns General Store in Llandogo features as Brown’s Supermarket, Eric 'lives' in a house in Old Farm House Mews, and the fairground scenes were shot in Vauxhall Fields, Rockfield Road, Monmouth.
Symonds Yat also makes a number of appearances - it's a small village on the River Wye (on the England side), and is within the Forest of Dean, which straddles the border between Wales and England. It has featured in a number of other TV shows and films, most notably Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I.
Other locations in South Wales
The school hall scenes are shot in The Paget Rooms, Victoria Road, Penarth. Nearby in Victoria Square, the Community Centre is actually All Saints Church Hall, which you might have spotted in Doctor Who as well. The Paget Rooms is a Grade II listed theatre in the heart of Penarth, built in the early part of the 20th century. As the town’s public hall, it is used for a variety of local and touring events throughout the year, as well as theatre productions, concerts, dances, coffee mornings, public meetings, as well as being a popular wedding venue.
Other locations of note: to swim in the wake of the characters, head to the Newport International Sports Village, where the swimming action takes place. The running track used by Otis is slightly further away, at Cwmbran Stadium, Henllys Way, Cwmbran.
Mountainside Military School is where Adam is sent at the beginning of Series 2. In reality, the exterior is Margam Country Park and Castle, a spectacular Grade 1 listed mansion of "exceptional quality" built in 1830. The castle has some spectacular features, including a vast stairhall and octagonal tower. The grounds around the house also feature an Orangery (built to house a great collection of orange, lemon and other citrus trees) and Margam Abbey, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, which dates from the second half of the twelfth century.
Why choose to film in Wales?
There's no shortage of impressive locations, historic buildings and sweeping backdrops in Wales (as you may have noticed). But why choose to film a series about a 'location-less' British high school in Wales?
In an interview with the Radio Times, producer Jon Jennings explains: “We knew it shouldn’t be shot in London. That was the first thing even before future episodes were written. It was definitely not going to be London-based show. We wanted it to be different, we didn’t want it to be Grange Hill or Ackley Bridge, we just wanted it to have that John Hughes influence of green and happiness to it.” He goes on to say: "All our locations are un-filmed locations, which we pride ourselves on. You won’t see that on telly, I don’t think.”
Sex Education is available on Netflix now. Find out more about filming locations in Wales.