With the fourth and final season of Sex Education currently riding high on Netflix, the hit teen drama’s intimacy coordinator has addressed the ongoing conversations about the need for the role on set.
An intimacy coordinator is someone who helps choreograph sex scenes and intimate moments on a TV show or film, while also ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the actors.
However, the necessity of the role has been questioned by various actors in recent years, with Game of Thrones star Sean Bean recently facing backlash after saying that on-set intimacy coordinators can “spoil the spontaneity” of sex scenes.
Sir Michael Caine also criticised intimacy coordinators in a recent interview with Daily Mail, and before that, Dame Emma Thompson offered an impassioned rebuttal when Sir Ian McKellen downplayed their importance.
“I totally understand. I completely get where they’re coming from,” lead intimacy coordinator for Sex Education David Thackeray toldRadio Times.
He continued: “It’s the typical thing, because when I trained as an intimacy coordinator, before it was established, the fear was that ‘is this going to really just be a bit of health and safety? Is it going to get in the way of acting, or directing? Is it going to get in the way of a process?’.
“But once you’ve gone through it, once you’ve actually worked with an intimacy coordinator, and had a brilliant process where you can go, ‘Oh, I found so much more detail’.
“I can still respect what your acting process is, I still respect your directing process, and I’m just gonna give you a couple of tools to be able to go, ‘Oh, that’s a lot easier, we’ll just do that.’ Or, ‘Wow, with having this open communication and consent, we can go even further’.
“And I won’t have to be thinking about my scene partner in a way that I’m really worried about, when you’ve got an intimacy coordinator there and you’ve had that dialogue and communication.”
Thackeray concluded: “So for me, I think, find out what it’s about and hopefully you have a great process with a great intimacy coordinator, and hopefully you will change your mind.”
Emma Mackey, who plays Maeve in Sex Education, opened up about the importance of intimacy coordinators on their set in 2020.
“The most important thing is physical consent,” she explained. “So it’s like a dance. We learn a dance”.
Asa Butterfield, who stars as the show’s lead character Otis, added that “making people feel really safe and comfortable is the most important thing”.
Meanwhile, Ncuti Gatwa, who plays Otis’ best friend Eric, added that those structures were in place “to help us do our job better”.