The series doesn’t hold any punches with its look at the partying, drugs and app-loving sex lives of modern Britain and renowned intimacy coordinator Ita O’Brien (Netflix’s Sex Education) was brought in to help ensure the safety of the cast and crew.
“Ita’s the top of the game in creating an atmosphere where actors can perform,” said Essiedu.
“Some of those scenes are fun, some of them are less fun and warm. But to go there, you have to know what the playing field is. Where everything goes, when and how. What you feel comfortable touching and where you feel comfortable being touched.
“The alternative to that is just approximating and hoping for the best. Which is just wild. You would never do that if you were doing a fight scene, so why would you do that with a sex scene.”
Opia used a body double for her sex scenes in the show and credits everyone involved in the production for making her feel comfortable to voice her discomfort.
“It was a very respectful space and I would never need to take things to one side,” she explained. “I’ve never experienced anything like that before and I really appreciate that.
Coel also helped loosen up any tensions on set by trying out lots of the most awkward scenes with her co-director Sam Miller, so she could have the same experiences at the cast.
“That takes away the line of directors watching actors do things,” she said. “Get stuck in and try things too. That set up a very nice, safe environment.
Talking about the significance of working with Ita, Coel said: “I think you have to be willing now more than ever as filmmakers to change things the moment you sense discomfort with actors.
“You have to keep trying and seeing if someone seems a little bit uncomfortable. I don’t know if you’ll always get it right, but you have to relentlessly make sure. By the time it comes on TV, you want the actors to feel proud rather than cringing at a memory of when they had to do something they weren’t comfortable with. That ruins it for them.”
Alongside Ita, a therapist was on standby for anyone who felt overwhelmed by the events of the series.
“It can trigger memories for anyone. Even people in the crew,” said the writer. “Everyone had access to them.”
More . . .