The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air holds a special place in the hearts of a whole generation of kids-turned-adults.
A global smash hit, the show ran from 1990 to 1996 and helped establish Will Smith as a fully-fledged actor and A-list star. It’s still hugely popular too, thanks to countless repeats and the fact the entire series is now available to watch on Netflix.
The premise was simple enough: a street-smart West Philadelphia teenager (Smith) comes to live with his aunt and uncle’s family in the plush surroundings of Bel-Air in Los Angeles. It was funny, cool and most importantly it had genuine heart with Smith showcasing his surprisingly impressive range.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was about so much more than just Will though. Sure, the rapper-turned-actor was the glue that held the whole show together but things might have fallen a little flat were it not for the excellent ensemble cast around him.
There was Philip and Vivian Banks (James Avery and Janet Hubert) his on-screen aunt and uncle, airhead older female cousin Hilary (Karyn Parsons) and his younger cousin Ashley (Tatyana Ali). And who could forget Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro), Will’s Republican-loving, Princeton-chasing preppy boy cousin who regularly revealed a softer, caring side along with a penchant for dancing to Tom Jones.
It was 90s TV perfection and continues to be, even today. Which is why so many fans were up in arms when rumours began to surface over a possible reboot of the show.
How could they better such a classic series? Why even try to in the first place? It just didn’t make sense. Fortunately, it seems those plans may have been a little premature though, because, according to Ribeiro, there’s no chance of there ever being a Fresh Prince reboot and there’s an entirely valid reason why.
Speaking to ABC, Ribeiro put the kibosh on any talk of bringing the series back. “There’s not going to be a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air anything,” said, revealing that the main reason the show would never be returning was that it simply would not be the same without James Avery, the actor who played Philip Banks aka Uncle Phil, on the show.
Avery, Ribeiro’s on-screen father, passed away aged 68 back in 2013, following complications related to open heart surgery. To Ribeiro’s way of thinking, returning to the show without Uncle Phil just wouldn’t be right.
“When James Avery passed, it was basically the last possibility of the show coming back in any form,” he told ABC. “Look, I don’t want to do it and I know that Will wouldn’t want to do it. I don’t know whether other people would want to do it. But, I just feel like, you know, the past is the past. We have to kind of just let it go.”
Smith, to his credit, has already expressed a similar viewpoint. “I don’t think ever, like pretty close to when hell freezes over,” he told E! “Like, we’re going to leave that one alone.”
Avery was a much-loved presence on the show and featured in some of the series’ most emotional episodes. A talented actor, comedian, poet and voice-over artist, he also provided the voice of Shredder in the hugely popular original run of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air undoubtedly ranks among his finest work, so it’s fitting that, by ensuring no reboot happens, his legacy and memory will live on for generations to come.
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