Darko Kerim (also referred to as Kerim Bey, where Bey is the equivalent of the English "Mister") was the fictional Head of the British Secret Service's "Station T" in Istanbul and a prominent ally of James Bond. The character appears in the 1957 Ian Fleming novel From Russia, with Love and was subsequently adapted for the 1963 EON Productions film of the same name, as well as several other portrayals.
- "What a man for Head of Station T! His size alone, in this country of furtive, stunted little men, would give him authority, and his giant vitality and love of life would make everyone his friend. Where had this exuberant shrewd pirate come from? And how had he come to work for the Service? He was the rare type of man that Bond loved, and Bond already felt prepared to add Kerim to the half-dozen of those real friends whom Bond, who had no ‘acquaintances’, would be ready to take to his heart."
- ― From Russia, with Love.
Early life and career
Darko Kerim was born into a large polygamous family of 15 children in Trezibond (now Trabzon) to a Turkish father, a famed sword-fish fisherman, and an English mother, a governess. At the age of twenty he too was a fisherman, and was recruited into the British Secret Service by a Major Dansey, the previous head of Station T, who wanted information about the Russian oil installations and naval base at Batoum, only 50 miles away. He later infiltrated Soviet Georgia as a strongman and wrestler in a travelling circus.
He became Head of Station T in Istanbul in the late 1930s. M clearly has a great respect for Kerim and notes that he is one of the best men in the service; a respect which is returned by Darko and his sons. He uses his many sons and uncles as agents, running a profitable business trading spices as cover. In his office Bond notices certificates showing that he has two Mentions in Dispatches and the military OBE. He is described as 6 feet 2 inches (1.88m) tall, powerfully built, dark, with a broken nose and a small thin gold ring wore in the lobe of his right ear. He smokes Diplomates Turkish cigarettes (naturally), and has an insatiable appetite for raw food, coffee, alcohol, and women.
He meets Bond and arranges for false papers in order for Bond and Tatiana Romanova to leave the country. Later he takes Bond through a rat-infested tunnel to a periscope he had installed below the Russian Embassy. This gives Bond his first look at Tatania. He then takes Bond to the Gipsy Camp (also used by Kerim as agents) where they witness the girl-fight, before being attacked by "The Faceless Ones", Bulgarian thugs employed by the Russians.
Afterwards Kerim (with Bond's help) kills Krilencu, leader of the Bulgars, with a sniper rifle concealed in a walking stick, as the Bulgarian attempts to leave his apartment using an escape hatch hidden behind a film poster. He then accompanies Bond and Tatania on the train out of Turkey. He arranges for two of the three MGB men following Bond to be arrested, but is stabbed to death by the third as he slept, killing his assassin in the process. Finding him dead in his carriage, Bond laments to himself, "this wonderful man who had carried the sun with him. Now he was extinguished, totally dead." Kerim's sons would later detonate a bomb under the Russian Embassy, avenging their father's death.
- The character of Darko Kerim was modeled after Fleming's Turkish friend, Nazim Kalkavan. Fleming met the Oxford-educated shipowner in Istanbul whilst doing research for From Russia, With Love.
- Kerim obtained his taste for raw meat from his training as a professional strong man.
- By the time he was twenty, Darko went to live in two small rooms on the waterfront in order to hide his romantic liaisons. To her disgust, his mother discovered that he had kept a naked Bessarabian girl chained under a table, whom he had supposedly won from a local band of gypsies.