The first edition was broadcast in September 1989. For the first year of the show, it was broadcast for one hour after the ITN News at Ten. In 1990, this was increased to 90 minutes, usually running from 10.40 pm – 12.10 am. In 1999 when ITV axed their News at Ten, the show moved to a new 9.00 pm one-hour slot, where it remained until the show ended in 2005. In 1999, he memorably interviewed a 9-year-old Rory McIlroy after he had won the world under 10s championship. The series reached its 500th episode in 2003, and the highest-rated edition of Kelly was broadcast on Friday 10 November 2000, when a special edition dedicated to George Best was watched by 367,000 viewers.
The end of the Kelly series was announced by UTV in 2005. Despite calls to save the series from ending, the final episode of Kelly was transmitted on 16 December 2005. Gerry Kelly said that UTV were unhappy with the show airing in the 9 pm slot, as UTV had to opt out of ITV's network schedule. Instead of moving the show to a new night or slot, UTV took the decision to axe it completely.