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After graffitiing popular culture with cartoon squigglies and launching the careers of various new British queeros, Heartstopper returned with its sophomore season last year to universal critical acclaim.

For those who somehow don’t know: the Netflix series is based on Alice Oseman’s beloved webcomic of the same name and follows the charming romance between high schoolers Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and Nick Nelson (Kit Connor), while also exploring the lives of their close-knit circle: Tao (William Gao), Elle (Yasmin Finney), Tara (Corinna Brown) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell).

Season two continued to receive praise for its unwavering focus on love, joy and acceptance, while breaking new ground for queer representation on the small-screen, as well as the young-adult genre.

While we wait with bated breath for more official announcements, from casting news to plot points, we’ve compiled a list of everything we know about the third season of Heartstopper below.

When will it be released?

On 13 May, Netflix confirmed the release date as 3 October with an adorable teaser that sees Charlie and Nick say “hi” (very out of character) and respectively compliment each other’s cap and vest. It was accompanied by an exclusive teaser of ‘BIRDS OF A FEATHER’, a track taken from Billie Eilish’s new album HIT ME HARD AND SOFT.

Who is returning from the second season?

All of your Heartstopper favourites are thankfully set to return in season three.

This includes Joe Locke as Charlie, Kit Connor as Nick, Yasmin Finney as Elle, William Gao as Tao, Corinna Brown as Tara, Kizzy Edgell as Darcy and Tobie Donovan as Isaac.

More star power incoming: Jenny Walser as Tori, Cormac Hyde-Corrin as Harry, Rhea Norwood as Imogen, Fisayo Akinade as Nathan, Chetna Pandya as Coach Singh and Bradley Riches as James.

Season two introduced a plethora of new characters: Jack Barton as David, Leila Khan as Sahar, Nima Taleghani as Youssef, Bel Priestly as Naomi and Ash Self as Felix.

Again, we’re expecting them to all reprise their roles.

Who isn’t returning?

Sadly, Sebastian Croft (Ben Hope) and Olivia Colman (Sarah Nelson) will not be back, with the latter confirming that she couldn’t “fit it in” to her busy schedule.

Who are the new cast members?

There’s a few new faces, with Darragh Hand (Silent Witness) joining the cast Michael Holden, Jonathan Bailey (Fellow Travelers) as Jack Maddox, Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) as Aunt Diane and Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan) as Geoff.

Holden is one of the main characters in Solitaire, another graphic novel created by Oseman that is set in the same universe.

In a statement, Oseman said of Hand’s casting: “As well as appearing in the Heartstopper graphic novels, Michael – along with Tori – is one of the main characters of my first ever novel, Solitaire.

“So I was very nervous and excited to begin the search for our Michael! Michael is a quirky, eccentric optimist with a sunshine disposition, and it was a challenge to find someone who I felt truly channelled Michael from the books.

“But then Darragh came along and warmed our hearts, made us all laugh so much, and perfectly complimented Jenny Walser’s Tori Spring. I can’t wait for you to meet Michael in season 3!”

Elsewhere, Marsan will play the “wise and straight-talking therapist” of Charlie and Atwell joins as Nick Nelson’s aunt. She will take “Nick on a summer holiday to Menorca” and share “some tough advice to impart about his relationship”.

Bailey will take on the role of an “Instagram-famous classicist and celebrity crush of Charlie”.

What is the plot?

Season two was slightly heavier than its predecessor, exploring sensitive topics such as coming out, mental health and self-harm.

Additionally, Heartstopper continued to give a voice to some of the most marginalised identities under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella with the revelation that Isaac is asexual, whilst introducing a new trans character in the form of Naomi. For a show such as Heartstopper, one that’s tailored to LGBTQIA+ youth, to do all of the above is, undeniably, groundbreaking.

Speaking with Metro, Oseman said mental health will be a “big element” in season three: “We’re going to continue to look at that in a big way and explore how that affects Nick and Charlie’s relationship, and all of the other friendships in the show.

“So people who’ve read volume four will have a little bit of an idea of what is coming. I’m really excited to take the show into that new place.”

Locke echoed Oseman’s comments in an interview with The Today Showsaying: “Every season of our show, we grow up with the characters more, and this season is definitely a bit raunchier; it’s still Heartstopper, but we also deal with some darker issues.

“Charlie, my character, he deals with some mental health issues, which we tackle in this season, which I’m very excited for people to see.”

As well as Charlie’s aforementioned arc, other crucial storylines that we can expect are as follows: Darcy’s toxic relationship with her homophobic mum; Elle attending the Lambert School of Art; Nick being a proud bicon; and Imogen’s untouchable status as the greatest ally in history.

The official synopsis for the season reads: “Charlie would like to tell Nick that he loves him. Nick also has something important to say to Charlie. As the summer holiday ends and the months race on, the friends begin to realise that the school year will come with both its joys and its challenges.

“As they learn more about each other and their relationships, plan social events and parties and start thinking about university choices, everyone must learn to lean on those they love when life doesn’t go to plan.”

Heartstopper season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.