Ncuti Gatwa who plays Eric Effiong in the Netflix hit series, Sex Education, has announced that the upcoming fourth season will be his last on the show, posting an announcement on Instagram that reads, “Last day. Last time. Bye, bubs. Thank you for all the lessons and for all the strength.” This news should hardly come as a surprise considering Gatwa’s exciting involvement in some of the most highly anticipated projects: Barbie and Dr Who, in which Gatwa is taking on the iconic titular role. Nevertheless, fans of the show will no doubt be sad to be losing another beloved character, in particular one who delivered some of the most memorable comedy and most important representation on the show, with storylines focusing on his journey to understand the intersections of his identity as a gay British Nigerian teenager.
Gatwa joins Patricia Alison, Tanya Reynolds and Bridgerton's Simone Ashley, who have also announced their departure from the show. Considering the last season also ended with the cliff-hanger of Maeve moving to the US and Moordale High closing down, it feels to me like the quality of Sex Education hangs in the balance. I found that its third season was definitely its weakest, with a number of plotlines that felt recycled or underdeveloped. Concepts that are as ground-breaking as this often struggle to recreate the magic of their first season, but that being said the show is still covering new ground. Dua Saleh as non-binary character Cal Bowman, for example, stands out, but even new themes like this seem tonally forced and less comedic than before. The show relies increasingly heavily on the captivating performances of its cast, thus making the departure of Ncuti Gatwa all the more disappointing. Only time will tell the real extent of its impact on the show.