The Prince of Bel-Air

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Television series
German title The Prince of Bel-Air
Original title The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Country of production United States
original language English
Year (s) 1990-1996
length 24 minutes
Episodes 148 in 6 seasons ( List )
genre Sitcom
Theme music The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air by Will Smith
idea Will Smith
Andy Borowitz
Susan Borowitz
production Quincy Jones
Will Smith (Season 6)
music Quincy Jones
First broadcast September 10, 1990 (USA) on NBC
first broadcast
November 14, 1992 on RTL plus

The Prince of Bel-Air (Original title: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ) is an American sitcom starring Will Smith , which ran on NBC from 1990 to 1996 . The series is about the everyday life of the young William "Will" Smith, who was sent to Bel-Air by his mother to live with his wealthy relatives.


The series is about the African American youth William "Will" Smith, who grew up on the streets of Philadelphia . During a basketball game, Will misses a throw and the ball lands on a group of aggressive guys. There is a fight. Fearing for her son, Will's mother, Viola, sends him to Los Angeles to live with his wealthy aunt Vivian and her husband, the lawyer and later judge Philip Banks, so that he can graduate from school.

Although his aunt tries to integrate Will into the family as sheltered as possible, he initially runs into some problems due to his lifestyle in the upscale Bel Air district . Especially with his apparently snobbish cousin Carlton and his spoiled and naive cousin Hilary, he doesn't get along at all at the beginning - and even Uncle Philip and Butler Geoffrey initially hardly know how to deal with Will's casual way of life. Only Ashley, the youngest member of the Banks family, recognizes the qualities and abilities of her cousin, who over time also succeeds in convincing the rest of the family of his charm and in taking them into their hearts.


Although the show was generally conceived as a comedy series , elements that were critical of society were processed every now and then. In particular, issues that the African-American assumptions subculture, were regular parts of the actions of individual episodes, including discrimination , fatherless, poverty and social classification, as well as the philosophies of the black civil rights activist Martin Luther King and Malcolm X .


Will Smith

William "Will" Smith is played by actor of almost the same name, Willard "Will" Smith . He was raised alone by his mother Viola in Philadelphia after his father left the family. Will is a huge fan of civil rights activist Malcolm X and, even if he rarely shows it, has a pretty good brains. After he seemed to have some adjustment difficulties at the beginning of his stay in noble Bel-Air, he got more and more used to living with his "new" family. Will embodies the classic ghetto boy, who takes life easy and doesn't care too much about his life, is the complete opposite of his cousin Carlton. He likes to play basketball, goes out with beautiful girls or jokes about himself Uncle and his cousin.


Jazz is Will's best friend. Like Will, he keeps his real name in the series, as he is also called Jazz outside of the series, which goes back to his DJ name "Jazzy Jeff" . Within the series he is only mentioned by his nickname (sometimes also Mr. Jazz by people who do not know him). In the first seasons Jazz tries to land with Will's cousin Hilary, who shows little interest in him. Will's uncle Philip Banks is also reluctant to see Jazz as a guest in his house, which leads him to throw him (in the truest sense of the word) out of the house. This expulsion developed into a running gag of the series. He is called " J " by Will Smith .

The Banks family

Philip "Phil" Banks

Philip Ezekiel Banks is by actor James L. Avery, Sr. played. Philip is in the first two seasons of a recognized lawyer with Princeton - university degree . He is named Chief Justice in season three when another judge (played by Sherman Hemsley ) dies celebrating his election victory. The relationship between Philip and his nephew Will seems a bit tense at the beginning of the first season. But this improves as they get to know each other better and better. In one episode, Philip admits that Will means a lot to him. He is called "Zeke" by his parents.

Vivian Banks

Vivian “Viv” Banks (née “Smith”) is played by two actresses during the six years of shooting. From 1990 to 1993 the character was played by Janet Hubert-Whitten . The reason for the change of actress was that Janet Hubert-Whitten became pregnant during the shooting and thus violated her contract conditions. The pregnancy was ultimately incorporated into the role of the serial mother before she was released at the end of season 3 and the role was finally taken over by Daphne Maxwell Reid . According to other sources, Hubert-Whitten was fired because of disputes with other actors on the series. Vivian is a professor of literary history at a university in Bel Air and the sister of Will's mother Viola. She also has three sisters.

Hilary Banks

Hilary Violet Banks is the oldest daughter of the Banks family and thus a cousin of Will Smith. She is very spoiled, fashion-conscious and naive. Your role is played by Karyn Parsons . After she quits college, her father wants her to work, and later also wants her to find an apartment of her own. Since he only says that she should get out of the house, she moves into the spacious pool house right in the garden. Among other things, she works as a weather announcer and party organizer. Most recently she is the presenter of her talk show "Hilary" and therefore moves to New York.

Carlton Banks

Carlton "C" Banks is played by Alfonso Ribeiro . Carlton is a conservative nerd who does the same as his father and wants to go to Princeton University later . However, he does not succeed in this for the time being because he has a misunderstanding with the headmaster. However, in episode 140 he receives a confirmation letter that he has been accepted. Carlton's guardian angel turns out to be his role model Tom Jones , who claims that he had to bribe Carlton's fate so that it would not take him out of life prematurely. Above all, Will makes fun of Carlton's small height very often, which is an integral part of the series.

Ashley Banks

Ashley "Ash" Banks, the younger of the two daughters, is played by Tatyana Ali . Will has a great influence on their development, which often leads to conflicts with their father. Ashley has a talent for music and later aspires to a career as a singer.

Nicky Banks

Nicholas "Nicky" Andrew Banks appears in the last three seasons and is the Banks' youngest child. In the last two seasons he is played by Ross Bagley .

Geoffrey, the butler

Geoffrey Barbara Butler - played by Joseph Marcell - is the butler for the Banks family. He is portrayed in the series as an individual to be pitied, but still has a dry saying about the Banks family on his lips. Geoffrey has a son who appears in the 141st episode. The butler is English and represents the classic compatriot: calm, relaxed and very sporty, he survives all conflicts in the Banks family without any problems. Geoffrey loves tea time . In one episode of the series, it is learned that Geoffrey came to America only because he had to flee England after attempting to cheat at the marathon. He is called "G" by Will Smith.

Cast and dubbing

The series was dubbed by Hermes Synchron in Berlin-Spandau. The dialogue was directed by Arne Elsholtz , who also wrote the German dialogue books and played the role of the butler Geoffrey.

role actor Main role Supporting role Voice actor
Will Smith Will Smith 1.01-6.24 Jan Odle
Philip Banks James Avery 1.01-6.24 Helmut Krauss
Vivian Banks Janet Hubert 1.01-3.20 3.23 Regina Lemnitz
Daphne Reid 4.01-6.24
Carlton Banks Alfonso Ribeiro 1.01-6.24 Sven Hasper
Hilary Banks Karyn Parsons 1.01-6.24 Katja Nottke (season 1)
Sabine Jaeger (season 2–6)
Ashley Banks Tatyana Ali 1.01-6.24 Ranja Bonalana
Geoffrey Butler Joseph Marcell 1.01-6.24 Arne Elsholtz
Nicky Banks Ross Bagley 4.14-6.24 Carsten Otto
jazz Jeffrey A. Townes 1.02-6.23 Frank Schaff
Viola Smith Vernee Watson 1.12–6.10 Karin Grüger

Guest appearances

The series featured many famous people: BB King , William Shatner , Oprah Winfrey , Jay Leno , Donald Trump , Vanessa L. Williams , DL Hughley , Elise Neal, Naomi Campbell , Tevin Campbell , Quincy Jones , Isiah Thomas , Evander Holyfield , Heavy D. , Tom Jones , Wayne Newton , Bo Jackson , Boyz II Men , Jasmine Guy , Vivica A. Fox , Bell Biv DeVoe , Ken Griffey Junior , Chris Rock , Malcolm-Jamal Warner , Hugh Hefner , Milton Berle , Gary Coleman , Zsa Zsa Gabor , Tyra Banks , Kareem Abdul-Jabbar , Stacey Dash , Don Cheadle , Christopher Judge , Michael Clarke Duncan , Jaleel White , Queen Latifah , Pat Morita , Hank Azaria , Ben Vereen , Naya Rivera , Doctor Dré , Isaac Hayes , Riddick Bowe .

Possible continuation and spin-off

On August 13, 2015, it was reported that a reboot of the show was in development by Overbrook Entertainment, with Will Smith serving as producer. In August 2016, Smith denied in an advertising interview with television station E! for his then-planned film, Suicide Squad , that a restart was in the process of being developed, saying that it would be "... pretty close to the freezing of hell".

In 2019, a short film (mock trailer) entitled Bel-Air was uploaded to YouTube, which was written and directed by Morgan Cooper. Although the original series also repeatedly exercised serious social criticism, the short film transfers the themes from The Prince of Bel-Air into the genre of drama and makes the thematic environment appear darker and more serious. Will Smith then praised the fan film, saying, "Morgan made an incredible trailer for Bel-Air . It is a brilliant idea to develop a dramatic version of The Fresh Prince for the next generation," and expressed his interest in the The idea to expand beyond the short film into a complete reboot series for Bel-Air .

On October 10, 2019, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Westbrook Inc., a cross-platform manufacturing company led by Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith , was working on a spin-off of the series.

In August 2020 it was announced that Will Smith and Morgan Cooper are developing a reboot of the series based on Cooper's Bel-Air . The series has reportedly been in the works for over a year since Cooper posted his Bel Air trailer on YouTube, with Netflix , Peacock and HBO Max all currently competing for the series.


  • According to a BBC interview, Alfonso Ribeiro advised his colleague Will Smith to choose the name of the fictional main character well because " he would be called that for the rest of his life on the street ".
  • Janet Hubert-Whitten played the role of Vivian Banks until the end of the third season , when she broke her contractual clauses due to pregnancy and was fired. Her role was then portrayed by Daphne Maxwell Reid until the end of the series . The only comment on this within the series came at the beginning of the first episode of season 4 of Jazz : "You know, Mrs. Banks, you've kind of changed since you had your baby!" In the first episode of season five the subject resumed when Jazz asked, "By the way, who's playing the mother right now?"
  • In the fifth season of the sitcom, Will is about to marry his girlfriend Lisa ( Nia Long ). Originally, Smith's future wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, was slated for the role; but she got a rejection because she was supposedly too small.
  • Will occasionally breaks through the 4th wall . There are also allusions that the whole thing is a sitcom. Examples: In the final episode of season 4, Carlton asks, "Who is Omar Bowler?" Will replies: "The dude that is spinning me over his head in the opening credit."
  • In the first episode of Season 5, an NBC Star Retrieval Unit employee refers Will to his contract and title of the show and brings him back to Bel Air.
  • In 2004, the television magazine TV Guide ranked “Philip Banks” in 34th place among the “50 most popular television fathers of all time”.
  • The title of the series is based on Will Smith's nickname "Fresh Prince", which he received during his school days due to his cheeky charm. The plot is basically based on the experiences of Benny Medina, a Warner Brothers manager and producer of the series.
  • After the third episode of the first season, two verses from the theme song were shortened, and accordingly the scene of packing the suitcase and the flight to Los Angeles as well as 10 seconds without singing at the beginning of the song were missing. In addition, the intro was no longer shown before an episode, but a few minutes after it began.
  • In 2016, Arby's restaurant covered the theme song The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as Fire-Roasted Philly, sung by Ving Rhames for a commercial.

The series on DVD

United States
  • Season 1 was released on February 8, 2005
  • Season 2 was released on October 11, 2005
  • Season 3 was released on February 14, 2006
  • Season 4 was released on August 8, 2006
  • Season 5 was released on May 11, 2010
  • Season 6 was released on April 19, 2011
Great Britain
  • Season 1 was released on February 21, 2005.
  • Season 2 was released on November 21, 2005.
  • Season 3 was released on June 26, 2006.
  • Season 4 was released on January 22, 2007.
  • Season 1 was released on April 15, 2005.
  • Season 2 was released on June 16, 2006.
  • Season 3 was released on September 15, 2006.
  • Season 4 was released on October 12, 2006.
  • Season 5 was released on June 18, 2010.
  • Season 6 was released on May 6, 2011.

Individual evidence

  1. Kentucky New Era - Google News archive search. Retrieved June 19, 2018 .
  2. Bethonie Butler: Behind 'original Aunt Viv' Janet Hubert's long-standing feud with her former 'Fresh Prince' co-stars. In: Washington Post . March 30, 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2018 .
  3. The Prince of Bel-Air. In: German synchronous index , accessed on June 30, 2012 .
  4. Jamie Lovett: Will Smith Producing A Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air Reboot. September 6, 2017, accessed on August 26, 2020 .
  5. ^ Marc Malkin: Will Smith Has Zero Interest In a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reboot: "When Hell Freezes Over". In: E! On-line. August 2, 2016, accessed August 26, 2020 .
  6. ^ Morgan Cooper: Bel-Air. In: Mock Trailer. Sun Squared Media, March 10, 2019, accessed August 26, 2020 .
  7. Jürgen Schmieder: New edition: Homecoming to Bel Air. Accessed on August 26, 2020 .
  8. Will Smith: How I Really Feel About That BEL-AIR Trailer on YouTube , April 26, 2019.
  9. ^ Tatiana Siegel: How Will Smith Cracked the Code on Making Real Money in Hollywood. In: Hollywood Reporter. October 10, 2017, accessed August 26, 2020 .
  10. Drama instead of comedy. Dark new edition of the "Prince of Bel-Air" series planned. In: Der Spiegel - Kultur. Retrieved August 26, 2020 .
  11. BBC Interview Will Smith and Gary Barlow perform the 'Fresh Prince' Rap | The Graham Norton Show - BBC One on YouTube , May 18, 2012.
  12. Jana Schwerdtfeger, Johanna Rex: Then & Now: The Stars from "The Prince of Bel-Air". July 24, 2014, accessed August 26, 2020 .
  13. ^ Jean A. Williams: Will Smith in Pursuit of Excellence. October 25, 2007, archived from the original on October 25, 2007 ; accessed on July 30, 2020 .
  14. Laura B. Randolph: The Real Life Fresh Prince of Bel Air . In: Ebony . Johnson Publishing Company, April 1991 ( limited preview in Google Book Search [accessed August 26, 2020]).
  15. Brock Koller: Arby's goes Philly, DJ Jazzy Jeff cool with 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' theme used in ad. December 9, 2016, accessed on August 23, 2020 .

Web links