Sex Education: Netflix show's boost for Welsh students

Scene from Caerleon campus Image copyright Netflix
Image caption USW's former Caerleon campus became Moordale High for the show

Despite a distinctly American feel to the latest Netflix hit, it is students from Wales who have already benefitted from Sex Education, it has emerged.

The global teen comedy, launched this month, was filmed in locations across south Wales, including Penarth and Caerleon, Newport.

Students from the area were recruited as extras and behind-the-scenes roles.

Tom Ware of University of South Wales (USW) said working on the series was a "genuinely a life-changing experience".

A coming-of-age drama based in a British high school, Sex Education centres around Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), a socially awkward student whose mother, played by The X-Files star Gillian Anderson, is a sex therapist.

Image copyright Netflix

However with hallway lockers and students playing American football and not wearing uniforms, viewers have said the school has more of an American feel than a typical British school.

As Netflix looks to appeal to a global audience, series producer Jamie Campbell told Radio 4's The Media Show he wanted the comedy to be far from former school-based programmes such as Grange Hill.

He said: "I love those shows... but we wanted to do something different. We wanted a show that was aspirational."

It lived up to that ambition for many students involved in filming last summer inside the Paget Rooms in Penarth and USW's former Caerleon campus. Some even secured jobs after the show.

Image copyright Jaggery/Geograph
Image caption Many interior shots were filmed at The Paget Rooms

Mr Ware, director of production & performance at UHW, said: "For the students it was genuinely a life-changing experience and has already led to further opportunities in film and TV.

"These included with the art department, production team, location crew and various running jobs. Two of our graduates ended up getting longer term jobs on the series."

One of those was Alfie Knight, 24, of Cardiff, who worked as a production assistant and was offered a job in London immediately after filming.

He added: "I made an absolute wealth of contacts and friends there which is likely to lead to my next big industry job."

Alex Sapot, director of co-productions at Netflix, said the company hoped to return for a second series and re-hire trainees in professional roles as well as offering programme for local students.

She added: "Our location scouts looked for spaces that could bring Moordale to life, both visually and practically. Although we did look at a few places, Caerleon had this beautiful decommissioned university campus that provided what we needed to make the show.

"The majority of the Sex Education crew was Welsh, but we also made a really important decision to set up dedicated training programmes on set, where students could learn production skills on the job.

"It's absolutely crucial that we invest back where we can, not only in terms of creating opportunities but also investing in the wider community."

Image caption The main campus building at Caerleon has Grade II listed status

However the future of the Caerleon campus, which closed in 2016, remains uncertain.

A planning application to build more than 300 houses on the site was refused in October.

Mr Ware added: "Should future series be commissioned, we are hoping to build on our links with the production next year."

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