From October 1986: How times change... 5 million punters might have been a disaster for the new season debut back in 1986 but, in our new fangled modern world, most UK broadcasters would be quite chuffed with a similar audience.
To be honest, I remember seeing the opening installments of the TRIAL OF A TIMELORD season and being distinctly underwhelmed. Not only was the whole idea of a sprawling 14 episode story arc flawed (and poorly executed) but JN-T's legendary showmanship seemed to have abandoned him. With the exception of the impressive motion-controlled miniature to open the story, there was little in the way of spectacle. Had he had served up a REMEMBERANCE OF THE DALEKS, he could have generated some buzz around the show again.
The slump also, of course, played into DWB's narrative that the current production team (read: the producer) needed the boot in order to inject fresh blood. What only became clear later was that JN-T was one of the few people inside the Corporation really to trying to keep the show in business at all.
And just look at some of the stellar ratings that some other regular shows were getting: over 17 million for EASTENDERS (although that almost certainly consolidated the Sunday afternoon omnibus repeat as well... and these were the days before Sunday opening gave millions the opportunity to dodge it), 10 million for DW's arch Saturday evening rivals THE A-TEAM. And even 4 million plus slumping down after school (or work if you'd bunked off exceptionally early) to see BLUE PETER.