Once upon a time, before Home Town became a smash hit, HGTV was on the hunt for a show they could produce that would celebrate small-town living.
When they heard about Ben and Erin Napier and the restoration work they were doing in their home town of Laurel, Mississippi (population: approximately 18,230), they asked them to make a casting video to show why they might be a good fit for a series about their lives — and why Laurel would make a great setting for it.
The video, which was shot back in 2014, had never been seen by the public before HGTV aired it during a special titled Home Town: Small Town Salute on July 2. (It aired to celebrate the announcement that Wetumpka, Alabama was selected as the town that will undergo a major facelift on the network’s newest show, Home Town Takeover, slated to premiere in 2021.)
In case you missed it, PEOPLE has since acquired the original casting video above, courtesy of HGTV — and it’s just as sweet as fans would imagine. “No one’s ever seen it before really!” Erin, 34, says before they roll the footage.
“This town is a town like Mayberry, it’s so bizarre and quaint,” Ben, 36, begins the video, comparing Laurel to the fictional small town in The Andy Griffith Show. “It’s like a pretty girl that doesn’t know she’s pretty,” adds Erin.
“Every house has a history, it has a story,” Ben continues. Erin finishes her husband’s sentence: “And we’re there to make other people appreciate that and see that the way we do. You don’t have to be an expert to save your town, you just have to care enough to get up and do it.”
The pair then go on to describe each other and their home renovation talents: Ben, a woodworker and furniture designer, and Erin, a home-flipping pro with a fervor for cozy interior design. Both say they love their spouse for their skills, but also their heart — each are incredibly passionate about bringing joy and comfort to other people and leaving things better than they found them.
Courtesy Ben and Erin Napier
Erin explains that she always loved driving through Laurel as a kid and looking at all the old, historic houses, and that’s what led her to want to help restore them to their best selves.
Ben agrees: “You have something that looks like Gatsby’s mansion, and then a house that’s been vacant for 30 years. And that’s something we want to change. We want every house to shine.”
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The couple, who married in 2008, then explain that they have a personal investment in making their town the best it can be, as well. “We are so passionate about the history of this town that we want the future to be just as bright,” Ben says. “We’re going to have kids here, and we want them to have that life that people used to have.”
Since the video was filmed in 2014, the couple welcomed a daughter, Helen, now 2, in January 2018.
“It’s good here,” Erin says to conclude the video. “It’s great here,” Ben confirms.
The casting video — bolstered by the couple’s sweet personas — soon won HGTV over, and the network aired the first episode of Home Town in March 2017. Last week, Erin shared that she and Ben had officially begun filming the show’s fifth season, despite the challenges created by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We are surrounded by a masked team but thankfully we know the familiar faces under there and are finding our groove again,” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a photo of herself and her husband with a clapperboard in hand. “Thank you for loving our show and letting us do this.”
Home Town Takeover (a six-part series) and Season Five of Home Town are both scheduled to premiere in 2021.