All is not peachy on the Island of Sodor.
Martin T. Sherman, the St. Petersburg native who has voiced the lovable engines Thomas the Tank Engine, Percy and Diesel for U.S. audiences, broke the news softly a few days ago on one of the more popular Thomas & Friends fansites.
"Unfortunately," he wrote, "I must now quit the show. It is embarrassing but the reason is that they are paying a very low wage. The terms they are offering are so poor, and this with the immense success of Thomas, that the only right thing for me to do is walk away."
Sherman, 43, grew up in St. Pete's Disston Heights, kicked around often at the Blueberry Patch in Gulfport, and cut his acting teeth at the Palisades Theater Co., which became American Stage Theatre Co. He graduated from Gibbs High in 1989 and moved to London after college. He's been the U.S. voice for Thomas since Thomas got his voice five years ago; the show had been narrated before the trains began to talk.
Reached by phone in London, Sherman said the decision to leave was tough, but he could no longer work for what he calls low wages. Especially, he said, in light of the success of the television show, DVDs and toy line.
"The people who are going to suffer is going to be the kids," he said.
He apologized in his letter to fans.
"People have been pretty understanding," he said. "They agree that if I'm being hurt, I need to go."
HIT Entertainment, which owns the show, did not return a request for comment.
Sherman, who has done voice work for video games, documentaries and audio books, said he plans to pour his energy into several inventions for renewable energy he's been working on.