He made his first appearance on 10 August 1994, defeating Helen Wood 55 – 45, and won a further five games before exam pressures forced him to retire before he could complete a potential octochamp run. He returned for the final rounds as #5 seed, and beat Isabelle Heward and Suzanne Miles on his way to the final. In the final against Damian Eadie, it went straight to the wire with Kelly trailing by a solitary point going into the final, crucial conundrum. Ultimately, it was Eadie who buzzed first, meaning Kelly had to settle for second-best and a clutch of book tokens (which, when dictionary corner guest Michael Parkinson asked what he would do with them, Kelly famously replied he would 'buy some books').
He returned to Countdown in 2013, as one of 41 contestants taking part in the 30th Birthday Championship. He won his first match against the Series 56 champion, Nick Wainwright, before losing to the Series 63 champion Jack Hurst in the first round proper, where Hurst scored 143, which was then the second highest score in the show's 30 year history.
Since his appearances on Countdown, Kelly has become an avid Scrabble player, achieving Grandmaster status within the ABSP and representing England at the 2007 World Scrabble Championship. He also won the National Scrabble Championship in 2011 and organises tournaments around his area. He appeared on Eggheads in 2013 and PopMaster in 2017, where he answered every question correctly to beat fellow Scrabbler Karl Kwiatkowski. He will reappear on the BBC Radio 2 daytime quiz in December of that year for the "champions league" round.
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Guest||Lex||Max|
|1550||10/08/1994||P||Wayne Kelly||55 – 45||Helen Wood||Jenny Hanley||Ruth Killick||83|
|1551||11/08/1994||P||Wayne Kelly||40 – 34||Linda Allen||Nigel Rees||Richard Samson||68|
|1552||12/08/1994||P||Wayne Kelly||71 – 36||Mike Salt||Nigel Rees||Richard Samson||88|
|1553||15/08/1994||P||Wayne Kelly||51 – 47||John Arand||Nigel Rees||Richard Samson||72|
|1554||16/08/1994||P||Wayne Kelly||67 – 10||Guy Wan Ali||Nigel Rees||Richard Samson||73|
|1555||17/08/1994||P||Wayne Kelly||67 – 21||Michael How||Nigel Rees||Richard Samson||73|
|1583||26/09/1994||QF||Wayne Kelly||59 – 46||Isabelle Heward||Michael Parkinson||Richard Samson||74|
|1585||28/09/1994||SF||Wayne Kelly||56 – 40||Suzanne Miles||Michael Parkinson||Richard Samson||71|
|1587||30/09/1994||GF||Wayne Kelly||83 – 94||Damian Eadie||Shirley Anne Field, Michael Parkinson||Richard Samson||125|
|1591||5/01/1995||CQF||Wayne Kelly||36 – 52||Richard Campbell||Denis Norden||Richard Samson||74|
|1896||5/12/1996||gQF||Gareth Williams||59 – 55||Wayne Kelly||Richard Digance||David Swarbrick||72|
|5616||8/01/2013||30BP||Wayne Kelly||105 – 68||Nick Wainwright||Dave Myers||Susie Dent||120|
|5636||5/02/2013||30B1||Wayne Kelly||89 – 143||Jack Hurst||Kate Adie||Susie Dent||152|