The forthcoming fourth season of Sex Education will be the last outing for Ncuti Gatwa and his beloved character Eric Effiong.

Gatwa announced the news as he commemorated the last day of filming.

In an Instagram post, the actor shared a photo of his trailer door alongside the caption: “Last day. Last time. Bye bubs, thank you for all the lessons and for all the strength.”

His co-star Aimee Lou Wood, who plays fan-favourite character Aimee Gibbs, mourned his departure, writing: “My heart hurts badly.”

Gatwa has played Eric since the first season of the Netflix comedy, for which he has received universal critical acclaim and a BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Male Performance in a Comedy Programme.

Since Sex Education debuted in 2018, Eric has become one of the UK’s most visible LGBTQ+ characters on the small-screen.

In his GAY TIMES cover story, Gatwa praising the series for its “beautiful representation of a young LGBT boy of colour and his journey through life, and his journey through his own acceptance, his culture, coming from a West African background.”

Gatwa also shared how the character has impacted viewers, particularly LGBTQ+ viewers of colour: “I was at UK Black Pride and the amount of people who were coming up to me specifically about the relationship between Eric and his dad was constant.

“And I think it really touched people to see this portrayal of this Black man, this strong big Black man loving his gay son. It was quite beautiful, and it’s something that we don’t see often and I think that’s why it impacted people.”

Gatwa’s departure is, presumably, a result of his groundbreaking casting in Doctor Who, in which he makes history as the first Black – and gay – incarnation of the titular time-lord.

His first appearance is scheduled to air in the “festive period” of 2023.

In a statement, the star said: “This role and show means so much to so many around the world, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care.

“I will endeavour my utmost to do the same.”

That’s not all: later this year, Gatwa will make his big-screen breakthrough in Greta Gerwig’s film adaptation of Barbie.

Starring Margot Robbie as the title character and Ryan Gosling as Ken, the cast also includes Will Ferrell, Simu Liu, America Ferrera, Ariana Greenblatt, Emma Mackey and Alexandra Shipp.

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